ESCALANTE — Three hikers who got stranded on a ledge in southern Utah are safe after a daring helicopter rescue.

The men were plucked from the cliff Tuesday morning — but first, rescuers had to be lowered with chain saws to cut enough trees for the helicopter to rest a leg against their ledge.

The hikers — Fred Harsh, 32, of Lehi; Mike Macy, 30, of Clarkston, Mich.; and Brad Crawford, 29, of Annapolis, Md. — set off into Death Hollow Canyon on Thursday. They were expected to meet a guide at the end of the trail on Sunday but didn't show.

The search began on Monday, when they were spotted just before dark — but the helicopter couldn't rescue them right away.

The men were visiting the 25,751-acre Box Death Hollow wilderness area, which contains two tributaries of the Escalante River, just outside the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. The hike involved as much wading in stream pools as walking.

Harsh told The Salt Lake Tribune the group got lost, then scaled a 50-foot cliff for safety from potential flash floods, where they found themselves trapped.