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.

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