Tuesday, April 27, 2010
The Poison Spider Trail is a popular 4WD and mountain bike trail. For hikers, the 5.7 mile one way route to Little Arch is a good choice. The trailhead area is 6.2 miles west along Highway 279, or Potash Road on the north side of Moab in southeast Utah. The junction of Highway 279 with Highway 191 is across from the entrance to Arches National Park.
The first mile climbs with switchbacks along a road with rounded rocks. There are a couple of obstacles for vehicles that make a hiker’s progress as swift as the vehicles. In this first section there are good views across the broad slow flowing Colorado River. The total elevation gain for the trail is about 1000 feet.
On the mesa top there are domes of Navajo sandstone and desert vegetation. The walking is relatively easy on the road though there are sandy sections. Several of the desert plants are in flower in late April. There are scattered Utah Junipers and Pinon Pines, a lot of Prickly Pear Cactus, Indian Rice Grass and Pepper Grass, and Mormon Tea. I saw a few of the bright red Indian Paint Brush in bloom.
There were about a dozen 4WD vehicles on the trail the day I hiked. There were about 15 dirt bikes mostly in 3 groups, and I saw 4 mountain bikes. I was the only hiker that I saw.
The approach toward the Little Arch area has a series of sandstone domes. The trail climbs over and around the domes. It is easy to follow the burned rubber and oil spots along the rock surfaces. This area is the high cliffs that are above the Colorado River in the vicinity of the Moab Rim Trail.
The upper part of the Moab Rim Trail and the Hidden Valley Trail can be sighted along here. Views closer to the cliffs reveal the tortured Rim Trail a very extreme route for vehicles. Watch for the junction with the Golden Spike Trail and stay to the right. There is also a loop route for vehicles that hikers would probably skip by again staying to the right.
The side route to Little Arch is well marked. For the benefit of vehicles directions are painted right on the rocks. The Little Arch is at the bottom of a deep pit and the views are from the edges. The trail head area for the Moab Rim Trail can be viewed through the arch as well as a section of river.
The Poison Spider Petroglyphs are on the cliff face above the Poison Spider Trailhead and above the publicized Dinosaur Track. The trailhead is 6.2 miles west along Potash Road, Highway 279, and west of the entrance to Arches National Park in southeast Utah.
There are good views of the Colorado River from the cliffs. This site is just to the west of the extensive Indian Writing petroglyph panels that are on the Wingate Sandstone cliffs along Potash Road. The same cliff area is also very popular for rock climbing. Across the parking lot the main Poison Spider Trail begins.
The Dinosaur Track is on a flat slab of rock to the right, below the petroglyphs. The Moab Museum on Center Street has a display on fossils found in the Moab, including some reconstructed skeletons. Continue up the short marked trail to the cliffs above.
Monday, April 5, 2010
The Hunter Canyon Trail is located 7.5 miles west along Kane Creek Road, west of Highway 191 in Moab in southeast Utah.
It is a 4 mile round trip up a canyon with a flowing stream and visits two arches. The Hunter Canyon Trail is similar to the Negro Bill Canyon Trail in length and habitat. Hunter Canyon is also the start of the route to Kane Creek Canyon and Hurrah Pass.
Hunter Canyon is narrow with steep sandstone walls. In spring there is a modest flow of water with frequent small pools. The somewhat braided trail crosses the stream many times. There are some rock cairn trail markers but mostly hikers follow the footprints of previous hikers. In some places the footprints lead to dead ends and some short backtracking is needed.
There are some large alcoves along the way but there isn't any apparent sign of ruins. Although there is water in this canyon, there isn't much floor space for farming and most of the alcoves don’t catch the sun for winter warmth, Information at the trail head mentions that beavers are active in Hunter Canyon.
About 0.5 miles down the trail, the large Hunter Arch appears high on the right. A little blue sky can be seen from both down canyon and up canyon without any climbing. The creek bottom has some Cottonwood Trees and Tamarisks. I saw some of the evergreen Fremont Barberry in the middle part of the trail. Many of the trail segments are sandy and there is a lot of Prickly Pear Cactus along the way.
About 2 miles down the trail there is a side canyon on the right with Curious Arch visible high on the right. The trail only goes a short distance past the Curious Arch side canyon. My hike took 2:30 hours on a 60 F early April day and I carried and drank 2 liters of water.
There were only a few hikers on the trail when I hiked. Otherwise, it was a busy weekend with many campers at the trail head area and many 4WD vehicles seeking the trails and following the Kane Creek Road toward Hurrah Pass.
Sunday, April 4, 2010
The Amasa Petroglyph Trail starts across from the parking area that is about 0.5 miles east of the Amasa Back Trailhead. This area is along Kane Creek Road about 5 miles west of the junction with Highway 191 in Moab, Utah.
There are two unmarked trails nearly side by side. The trail to follow is the one that heads uphill toward the cliffs above. The other trail leads down into a short canyon that has several alcoves. The trail leading up is short and levels out at the base of the cliffs with a good view west toward the Amasa Back area. There are several panels of petroglyphs extending for a few hundred yards. There is also a ring of stones set against the cliff face that makes a somewhat dramatic picture.
One of the panels has a figure that is usually described as Barrier style, similar to one at the Moonflower Canyon site. There is also a relatively large flute player image nearby. There are many mountain sheep images, at least one large spiral and a few humanoid figures.
One of the panels has a line of mountain sheep where it appears that someone has been trying to cut one of the figures out. I explored the lower trail toward the views of several alcoves also, but I didn’t notice anything that resembled ruins. I spent about 1:00 hour in this area on a 55 F degree early April Saturday morning. It was a busy Jeeping day in Moab, hundreds of 4 wheelers out enjoying the wonderful rocky
terrain of the area.