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.

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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.