Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Eye of the Whale Arch Trail

The Eye of the Whale Arch Trail is located along the 4WD road that runs from the Balanced Rock Trail area north toward Klondike Bluffs. A gravel road starts directly across from the Balanced Rock Trail in Arches National Park in southeast Utah and leads to a picnic area, then at 0.8 miles, to a junction with the 4WD road to Willow Springs.

 I started my hike at the junction of the 4WD roads and followed for about 1.9 miles to the trail head, then another 0.25 miles to the arch. The road provides easy walking and the terrain seems to be dominated by Mormon Tea, another small shrub that I think is Blackbrush with a few scattered Utah Junipers and patches of Prickly Pear cactus.The Eye of the Whale Arch has a span of 37 feet, is 12 feet high, and 25 feet thick. Standing under the arch there is a slope going down the back side that looked easy enough to slide down, but might be tricky to climb back up.
Checking around the south side of the formation, there is a wash that leads to the back side. The Eye is more impressive from the back side and I thought looked more like the eye of a gator than a whale.
I didn't attempt to climb up the steep ramp from the back side. It took me about 50 minutes to arrive at the arch, 20 minutes to look around and 50 minutes back for a total of about 2:00 hours for about 4.4 miles of hiking.

Only 15 minutes of hiking pas the Eye of the Whale is the large Leaping Arch. There isn't a marked trail or a sign pointing it out, but it is visible from the Klondike Bluffs 4WD road. A 7 mile loop hike is possible by following the drainage beyond the sandstone fins southwest to the Willow Springs Road and then returning to the junction

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