Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Frame Arch Trail

The Frame Arch Trail is actually the famous Delicate Arch Trail in Arches National Park in southeast Utah. Most hikers on the 3 mile round trip to the Delicate Arch notice Frame Arch, but don’t climb up the short slope for the special view through it.

The Delicate Arch Trail starts near the historic Wolfe Ranch, the small cabin site of cattle ranchers here in the early 1900s. There is a new bridge crossing Salt Wash and a small petroglyph panel near the trail head. In early December there was flowing water in Salt Wash and a pair of Mallards. Most hikers remember the long stretch uphill over bare sandstone, the route marked with rock cairns.
The final section of trail runs along a ledge with the view toward Delicate Arch blocked. There is an arch down below across the canyon to the left, called Echo Arch and Frame Arch is on the right just before the view opens up.

I didn't catch the light very well, but Echo Arch is in the shadow area to the left of the trail.

After viewing Delicate Arch through Frame Arch I looked to see if it was possible to do the reverse, to view Frame Arch framed through Delicate Arch. It’s possible to stand under Delicate Arch, but the sandstone drops off steeply behind it.

There is a Viewpoint Trail for Delicate Arch, 1.1 miles past the trail head area. The parking area at the view point is much larger than the hiking parking area, with room for several busses. There is a view point that doesn’t require any walking and another view point at the end of a 0.5 mile trail. From the view point, Delicate Arch appears to be one of a row of several eroded fins, rather than an isolated formation.

The hike to Delicate Arch took me about 1:30 hours. I hiked on a 45 F degree blue sky early December day. I carried 1 liter of water but didn’t drink until the end under these comfortable conditions. The View Point hike takes about 0:30 minutes.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Pritchett Canyon Trail

The Pritchett Canyon Trail is an extreme 4WD trail a little west of Moab in southeast Utah. The trailhead area is at the private Kane Creek Campground about 4.5 miles west of Highway 191 along Kane Creek Road. There is a $2 per hiker fee to pass through the private campground.

The route passes roughly between deep canyon walls with sparse vegetation. This canyon doesn’t appear to have very much water or riparian habitat, at least in the fall.

A good destination for a hiker is the large Window Arch about 3.5 miles down the trail.

The road loops around the fin with Window Arch so it is visible from the north and the south. One of the major 4WD obstacles is on the north side of the loop with the Window looming overhead. At the 2.5 mile mark there is an east side canyon with short unmarked trail to the Troll Bridge Arch. (There is a separate post on this side trail. Use the label Troll Bridge to find.)

Past Window Arch the road climbs to a pass where I turned around. The climb up to the pass is the last of the major 4WD obstacles. These obstacles have colorful names like Rocker Knocker, The Rock Pile, and the last one is Yellow Hill. The overall route goes about 5 miles and connects to the Behind the Rocks Jeep Trail.

Looking back toward the area below Window Arch, the reptile looking formation that contains the Halls Bridge arch is visible. This formation is not very clear from below. There is a 0.5 mile trail leading to a good view point of the large Halls Bridge. (Separate post again .. Halls Bridge.)

Pritchett Arch is clearly visible from the area below Window Arch on the rim to the south. There is also a formation in this area that resembles the head and neck of an ostrich.

The hiking along the Pritchett Canyon Trail is fairly easy, the grade is gradually uphill and the footing is slightly sandy. There are rocky points that are easy to hike past that look impossible for vehicles. The trail head information advises that vehicles should have 2 locking differentials, 33” or larger tires and winches.

There is a warning of high possibility of roll over, breakdown and body damage. I hiked the side trail to the Troll Bridge and arrived at the Window Arch after about 2:15 hours. I continued up to the pass and then returned below and hiked the side trail to large Halls Bridge.

The return hike from the Window Arch area without any stops took about 1:45 hours for the 3.5 miles. My total hike took 5:45 hours for the 9 miles that I hiked. It was an 80 F degree day in mid October and I carried 3 liters of water.

532497_120 x 90 Starting Salary $42k. Group 1

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Troll Bridge Trail in Pritchett Canyon

The Troll Bridge Trail is a short side trail off of the Pritchett Canyon Trail near Moab in southeast Utah. About 2.5 miles along the difficult 4WD trail, a vague side road heads east up a side canyon on the left side of the canyon drainage.

The Pritchett Canyon Trail is mostly easy walking, slightly uphill, with sandy footing. There are several major obstacles for vehicles. The side road toward Troll Bridge is closed to vehicles.

The Troll Bridge forms a bridge over the drainage and is visible along the road, but not until you’ve walked past it a few feet. About 0.3 miles up the road there is a canyon junction, with the Bridge a little before the junction. The cliffs are steep in the vicinity of the Bridge and the easy views are from above. I didn’t look for a way to get closer, though it looks like an approach up the wash is feasible.

I looked for a second arch a few hundred yards past the Troll Bridge called Dead End Arch but didn’t see it. Dead End Arch is mentioned in the Chris Moore guide to arches in the Moab area but doesn’t appear on the Bob’s Arches web site. I saw a formation that looked like it might have been an arch but has collapsed. This short tour took about 0:40 minutes out of a total hike of 5:45 hours.

Halls Bridge Arch Trail in Pritchett Canyon

The Halls Bridge Arch Trail is a 0.5 mile side trail off of the Pritchett Canyon Trail west of Moab in southeast Utah. At about 3.5 miles up the very difficult 4WD route a closed side road leads to the west past a rock formation that resembles the head and long neck of an ostrich.

Halls Bridge is a large arch but it is not facing the area where the Pritchett Canyon Trail circles around the very large Window Arch and then continues east up to a pass. The west leading side road comes to an end and a trail continues along the rim of a canyon drainage.

The trail seems to end at a rock wall but there is a notch that allows an easy climb up through about 12 feet of cliff. The notch isn’t exactly at the end of the trail but about 20 feet before it. I had to look for a few seconds before seeing it.

The Halls Bridge is a few hundred feet past the short climb. From a distance, the formation that includes Halls Bridge looks like a prehistoric reptile with a spike in the back of its head and a big eye.

The viewing area for Halls Bridge is somewhat narrow between the rock fins, only a few angles available. I didn’t try to get up closer. This side trip took me about 1:00 hour out of a total hike of 5:45 hours.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Behind the Rocks to Rim Arch

The Behind the Rocks Trail is a 4WD route in the rocky wilderness area about 10 miles south of Moab in southeast Utah. The turnoff is at mile post 112.9 on the west side of Highway 191.

About 0.4 miles along the dirt road there is a turn off to the right that is the beginning of the route. It is easy to drive any vehicle to this point and the route gets rougher beyond.

The route is well marked for about 1.2 miles as it approaches an area with many conehead sandstone formations and arrives at a fenced vegetation restoration area where the main trail turns left. There is an old trail that continues north to the right toward Moab Rim Arch and Tukuhnikivista Arch.

About 0.5 miles along the side trail the Moab Rim Arch comes into view. I didn’t see any other hikers on this trail but met one couple exploring on an ATV.

There is a blue sky angle for Moab Rim Arch along the west side. This area has the typical canyon area vegetation of Pinon Pines and Utah Junipers with scattered small shrubs.

This trail also has many rim views toward the LaSal Mountains and the Spanish Valley south of Moab. About 0.4 miles past the Rim Arch, the rough road ends at a turnaround point with elevated good views to the east.

Back to the west the Tukuhnikivista Arch is visible high above on the upper rim. The climb up to the arch looked steep. I climbed part of the way to get a better view and saw some rock cairns along the way, so there may be a trail going up. I’ve seen pictures of this arch framing the mountains to the east so it is possible to make the climb.

After getting closer view I returned to the trail head. My hike was about 4.2 miles and took 2:15 hours on a warm 85 F day in late September. I carried 2 liters of water and drank it all.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Hidden Valley Trail

The Hidden Valley Trail is about a 5 mile round trip that passes through a narrow elevated valley in the rocky terrain near Moab in southeast Utah. The trail head is about 3 miles south of the center of Moab off of Angel Rock Road on the opposite side of Highway 191 from the Moab golf course.

The first part of the trail climbs with switchbacks 680 feet up through the jumbled sandstone cliff. From below the notch into the Hidden Valley isn’t visible. There are good views back toward the south part of Moab as the trail rises.

In Hidden Valley the trail is flat and smooth and surrounded on both sides by towering walls of rock. The valley floor is grassy with scattered Utah Junipers and scattered desert shrubs. This trail connects to the Moab Rim 4WD trail that starts along the Colorado River and the Kane Creek Road. It is about 2.4 miles to the marked junction of the two trails. Vehicles aren’t able to continue past the end of the Moab Rim Trail.

On the right or north side of the Hidden Valley Trail at the junction with the Moab Rim Trail there is a long cliff face that has several unpublicized rock art petroglyph panels. About 200 yards past the junction there is an unmarked side trail that climbs up to the base of the cliffs. The side trail runs both up and down the cliff face. Most of the five or six art panels are to the right and uphill spread out over about 200 yards.

There are a variety of images including many mountain sheep, human figures, geometric designs and at least two flute players.

The side trail also goes to the left, around a corner and up a short side canyon that is behind the main canyon wall. In the side canyon there is at least one more rock art panel that sits high above the floor and takes a little climbing to get up to.

It is an interesting panel that includes a line of marchers wearing backpacks and led by flute players. It is somewhat similar to the Procession Panel in the Comb Ridge area of southeast Utah near the town of Bluff. There may be as many as six flute players in this panel.

The return hike has views of the LaSal Mountains to the east. It took me about 30 minutes to climb to the entrance to Hidden Valley and a total time of 1:15 to arrive at the junction of the Hidden Valley and Moab Rim Trails. I spent about 1:15 hours to view the petroglyphs and then 1:00 hour to return to the trail head. My total hike took 3:30 hours for about 5 miles. I carried 2 liters of water on an 85 F day in late September and drank it all.

532497_120 x 90 Starting Salary $42k. Group 1

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Devils Garden Primitive Loop Trail

The Devils Garden Primitive Loop is an alternate return route after arriving at the Double O Arch in Arches National Park in southeast Utah. It is about 2.1 miles along the trail to the start of the Primitive Loop with several large and famous arches to see along the way.

While viewing Double O, there is also a good view of the pinnacle called Dark Angel. Just before arriving at Double O arch there is a sign pointing out the view point for Black Arch. It is hard to see the opening of Black Arch as it is always in shadows.

The upper opening of Double O Arch is about 66 feet wide. The area below the arch is very sandy and the walking is a little difficult. The lower opening is large enough for several people to stand in.

There is a sign at the start of the Primitive Loop cautioning hikers that the hiking is difficult. Along this first section the trail is fairly easy walking and up ahead is a side trail to Private Arch.

I skipped the side trail to Dark Angel and continued along the Primitive Loop. The first obvious arch is called Top Story Arch.

The walk to Private Arch is a few hundred yards and about 5 minutes. There are some tricky spots along the trail past Private Arch. But if you made it this far you can probably continue.

Two Blocks Arch is another small arch high on the canyon wall to the right about 80% of the way to Private Arch.
After the Private Arch side trail, the Primitive Trail turns south through an area of fins and descends towards a wash. Before arriving at the wash Box Arch is on the right. There isn’t a sign pointing out Box Arch so keep an eye out for the footprints of other hikers in the sand.

Just below Box Arch is the one really tricky part of the trail. There is a slanted narrow ledge above a drop off that was a nervous area to get across. I leaned far to the uphill side and stepped very carefully to the point where I could slide down to the bottom. It looked like this would be a slippery and hard spot to climb up if you were hiking the loop counter clock wise.

The trail continues in the wash for a ways and then a sign directs you out of the wash and back onto an easy to follow trail. The sand is loose in the last stretch making the walking a workout. 

The views along this section are back towards the many towering rock fins. There may be some arches to find hidden in the fins but there aren't any more signs or obvious side trails.

 Keep an eye out for Crystal Arch to the east, about 5 minutes northeast of the junction of the Primitive Loop and Landscape Arch. (Separate Post for Crystal Arch, use labels to find.)

The Primitive Loop rejoins the main trail at Landscape Arch and there is a different view of it as you approach the trail junction. My total hike was about 7 miles and took 3:20 hours. I carried 2 liters of water on an 85 F degree early September day and drank it all and needed a big drink when I finished.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Birthing Scene Petroglyphs

The Birthing Scene Petroglyph site is a large boulder located only 75 feet from Kane Creek Road in the rocky wilderness area west of Moab in southeast Utah. The site is 5.3 miles west of the junction with Road 500 West.

There are petroglyphs on all four sides of the boulder with the birthing scene being the art work that captures the most attention. This site is a little unusual as the many of these sites are on cliff faces rather than boulders.

The road leading to the site runs along the south bank of the Colorado River, and then follows Kane Creek through a very rocky dry area.

This BLM managed area is popular for off highway vehicles and mountain bikes. There are also many stone arches in the area for hikers to find and there is the cultural history of use by American Indians.

There are at least seven easy to visit rock art sites in the Moab area and many more in the remote areas.

Along the same road to the Birthing Scene is the Moonflower Canyon site. On the north side of the Colorado River, there are extensive petroglyphs on the steep cliffs along the Potash Road.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Moab Rim Trail

The Moab Rim Trail is a multi user trail route that climbs to the cliffs overlooking the west side of Moab in southeast Utah. It offers 3.5 miles of road before connecting with the Hidden Valley hiking trail which approaches from the south.

The Trailhead is well marked and is located on Kane Creek Road about 2.5 miles west of the junction with Highway 191.The trail climbs steeply in the first mile, gaining about 1000 feet. There are increasing spectacular views of the Colorado River as it winds toward the Canyonlands National Park. The trail is easy to follow as there are tire marks and oil spots on the Kayenta Sandstone.

The arch known as Little Arch is visible in the top of the cliffs on the opposite side of the Colorado River. Little Arch can be viewed from above along the Poison Spider Trail.

It took me about 30 minutes to get to the top where there are wide views overlooking Moab with some of the arches in Arches National Park visible and the La Sal Mountains to the east. There are some short trails to explore in the overlook area.

The trail cuts away from the rim and splits forming a loop. The left loop follows a sandy wash between large Navajo Sandstone domes and there is a small arch to the left. I think this one is called Buttress Arch. I spent a few minutes getting up under the arch for the blue sky angle, and then followed the right side of the loop.
The route is a two track road for a while then climbs a dome that looked unbelievable to try to drive over. There are good views in all directions from the top of the rocky knob. After descending from the top, the sandy wash part of the loop connects and then the road splits again and ends.

I turned back and followed the sandy part of the loop down a steep slope to explore a side canyon that had several alcoves. This looked like a likely place to find Indian Ruins. This was a scenic and narrow rocky area with some seep springs and lush vegetation but I didn’t see any ruins in the several alcoves.

From here I followed the sandy wash back toward the trail head. There may be ruins or petroglyphs on the road further along the road on the right fork.

There was quite a bit of 4WD drive activity on the trail in this mild April afternoon, with traffic jams forming as the vehicles labored past the tricky spots on this difficult route. With my side trips, it took me 3:00 hours to get to my turn around point, but only 1:15 to return to the bottom for a total hike of 4:15.