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.