Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Dark Angel Trail-Devils Garden

The Dark Angel Trail is a side trail on the Devils Garden Trail in Arches National Park in southeast Utah. The Devils Garden Trail is at the north end of the paved road, about 15 miles past the Visitor Center.

The Dark Angel side trail begins at Double O Arch, about 2.1 miles from the trailhead. Most visitors to the Devils Garden Trail turn around at Landscape Arch after 0.9 miles. The trail becomes more primitive after Landscape Arch with slickrock sections and minor scrambling. More hikers turn around at Double O Arch with only a few continuing on the Primitive Loop or to Dark Angel.

It is about another 0.4 miles to the Dark Angel pinnacle. It took me about 1:00 hour of hiking to arrive at Double O Arch without any stops or traveling down the two other side trails. The route to Dark Angel crosses a drainage toward an area of fins.

Near the beginning of the side trail there are some good views of the backside of the Double O Arch.

The view to the west from the Dark Angel is across the Salt Valley and toward the Klondike Bluffs. The Klondike Bluffs area has the good hike to Tower Arch.

I hiked about 0.5 miles past Dark Angel along the cliffs on the east side. I was looking to see if any petroglyphs were along here.

I didn’t find any rock art but there is a small arch here. I think this one is called Cat Eye Arch.

My return hike from Dark Angel took 1:15 hours for 2.5 miles. My total hike took 3:45 hours for about 6 miles. I carried and drank 3 liters of water on a sunny 65 F late October day.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Fisher Towers Trail

The Fisher Towers Trail is a 4.6 mile round trip along the base of some very tall eroded pinnacles east of Moab in southeast Utah. The trail head is 22 miles east along Utah Route 128, then 2.3 miles south on a marked BLM road. Utah 128 travels along the south bank of the Colorado River and there are many campgrounds and river access points.

Trailhead information says that the towers are composed of the Organ Rock Tongue of the Cutler Formation and capped by the Moenkoepi Formation. These layers are below and older than the sandstone formations that form the cliffs and arches around the Moab area. There is also trailhead information on the history of this area known as the Richardson Amphitheater.

The first segment of trail descends and crosses the first of several short side canyons. There are constant views of the towers on the west side of the trail. Climbers are active in this area. Parts of the trail are at the base of these towers and you can throw your head back and look straight up.

The rest of the route winds around the heads of the side canyons and some segments are somewhat ledgy with long drop-offs. When hiking in the morning, the trail goes in and out of shade. There is a warning at the trailhead that on summer afternoons the sun exposure can be extremely hot.

There is a ladder at one of the canyon heads positioned to get down a tricky spot. Steps are constructed in places to make the walking easier and less slippery.

The formation called The Titan is the only one that seems to have a name. There is a trailhead sign saying that the Titan is 1.5 miles along the way. There is a climber visible in this view inching his way up the face of the Titan.

Toward the end of the trail, there are views back to the north with a view up the Colorado River. The trailhead parking area is in this view with the trail winding along the base of these cliffs.

The trail ends at a lookout point over the Onion Creek area with the Castle Valley area in the distance. It took me 1:40 hours to arrive at the lookout point. After 0:15 minute break, the return hike is mostly downhill and took me 1:15 hours for a total hike of 3:10 hours.

It was 75 F degrees at my 10:45 AM start and 86 F degrees at my 1:55 PM finish. I carried and drank 2 liters of water on a sunny late September day. I saw 14 other hikers and there were 4 climbers visible during my hike.

About 8 miles further east on Utah 128 is the historic Dewey Bridge site. The historic bridge has experienced a recent fire and is somewhat in ruins. The Dewey Bridge site is also a trailhead for the long Kokopelli Trail.

18407_$5 Shipping on Orders of $99 or More! 544544_$20 off any hotel booking of $350 or more with code TLSALE20

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Mill Creek South Fork Trail

The Mill Creek Trail is a popular hot weather hike in the Moab area in southeast Utah. The trail head is at the east end of Power House Lane, an east turn off of Mill Creek Drive. This area is on the southeast side of central Moab.

At the trail head area there is a map of the Mill Creek Trails. After 0.75 miles the trail splits into the North Fork and South Fork trails. The North Fork is the most popular as there are two swimming holes fed by the year round flow of Mill Creek. The first swimming hole at about 1.0 miles has a waterfall and low cliffs for jumping.

There are also examples of ancient rock art along the North Fork. I had thought I was going to hike the North Fork, but somehow missed trail junction and hiked the longer South Fork Trail. There is also a Mill Creek Rim Trail that starts at the same trail head.

The early part of the trail passes the historic Mill Creek Dam, The dam was build in late 1919 to replace an earlier wooden dam that was destroyed in the August 2 flood in 1919. The dam generated power for the Moab area until 1945.

Beavers are continuing the dam tradition by building their structures just upstream of the concrete dam. Sections of wire fence have been installed to protect large cottonwood trees from becoming part of the beaver dam project. The beaver works have flooded a short section of the trail, causing hikers to step carefully along a rocky cliff. But expect your feet to get wet on this hike even if you are not here for swimming.

The Mill Creek was very full during my mid June hike. I crossed four times in a short stretch. The water was up to my calves and the current was enough warrant careful stepping. I found a long stick to use to test the depth and help with balance. After the four crossings and 1:00 hour of hiking I arrived at a rocky gorge that I thought was a swimming hole, but this was on the South Fork trail.

The creek bottom area is very lush with Cottonwood Trees and Willows and other riparian vegetation. In some places the trail cuts through a thicket of dense growth. The canyon sides have Pinon Pines and Utah Junipers.
About 10 minutes past the rocky gorge there is a petroglyph panel with mountain sheep very close to the trail. Above the mountain sheep is a larger panel with many figures. The trail passes below this panel and you have to look back to see it. Many sheep and horned human figures are here.

After 2:00 hours of hiking the South Fork Trail starts to climb out of the Mill Creek Canyon. I could see a house near the canyon rim. It looks like a hiker could loop back to the trail head using trails along the rim. I noticed other side trails along the way that climbed to the rim.

Some joggers passed me while hiking up the South Fork and they didn’t return, so perhaps they were doing a loop. At the point where the trail was leaving the Mill Creek Canyon, there is a large alcove further up canyon. In other areas, such a large alcove would be a good place to look for ruins.

The main South Fork Trail is on the south side of Mill Creek. Across, I could see a minor trail along the cliffs. Scanning with binoculars I noticed a large petroglyph panel. On the return hike I crossed the creek to look closer.
The minor trail continued back downstream so I followed it and was surprised by how many petroglyph panels were along here. Some are large and some small.

I spent about 0:40 minutes on the petroglyph segment of the South Fork Trail. There are more images here than I can talk about. I recrossed the Mill Creek slightly upstream of the rocky gorge that I thought was the swimming hole. From the gorge it was about 1:00 hour back to the trail head.

When I started at 10:00 AM it was 62 F degrees and there were two other vehicles in the parking area. At my 2:00 PM finish it was 78 F degrees and there were about 30 vehicles. Large groups were starting as I was finishing. I didn’t realize that I had hiked the South Fork until I reviewed the map at the end of my hike. My total hike was 4:00 hours for 7 or 8 miles. I carried and drank 2 liters of water.

532497_120 x 90 Starting Salary $42k. Group 1 528614_Russell Outdoor Logo 125x125

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Balcony Arch and Picture Frame Arch-Behind the Rocks

Balcony Arch and Picture Frame Arch are in the Behind the Rocks area south of Moab in southeast Utah. The access is a west turn on the BLM Behind the Rocks road at mile post 112.9 on Highway 191.

It is 5 miles west on the BLM road then about 0.2 miles north where a large sandstone rock mass is visible. It is possible to park right below the east facing Balcony Arch. The Behind the Rocks road has some bumpy rocky spots and might be sandy after a long dry period. The sand was firm and easily drivable with a Subaru during my visit, but travel is slow.

There is a system of marked side trails in this area for off highway vehicles and mountain biking. There is also an effort to restrict vehicles and camping to designated areas to restore the desert vegetation. Looking back to the east, there are good views toward the LaSal Mountains, still with snow in mid June.
It is only 10 minutes of walking to the north side of the same rock mass where Picture Frame Arch can be found. The views to the north are toward the jumbled Behind the Rocks area. A few of the area designated camp sites are along the east side of the sandstone rock mass.
Picture Frame Arch is also in a vegetation damaged area and has signs asking for restricted travel in the area below the arch.
My total visit to Balcony Arch and Picture Frame Arch took 30 minutes including about 20 minutes of walking.

18407_$5 Shipping on Orders of $99 or More!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Hunter Canyon Rim Trail

The Hunter Canyon Rim Trail begins at the east end of the Spring Campground, 6.9 miles west from Highway 191 along Kane Creek Road near Moab in southeast Utah. This is about 0.5 miles before the better known Hunter Canyon Trail.

The trailhead isn’t marked and the first segment is confusing, even the first steps are confusing. I started by walking up some steps and then through a campsite on the right side of the creek. The trail crosses the creek and heads up along the left side of a narrow canyon with a pour off point about 300 yards ahead. There is some rock scrambling up to the left to get above the pour off. The route is marked with rock cairns, but I had to look carefully to follow them.

I got confused at the pour off. The main trail circles the pour off and makes a 180 degree turn, then climbing with a view above the campground area. There are also side trails and rock cairns that continue up the canyon. I spent an hour looking for the trail up the canyon before deciding that I was off the track.
Once past the pour off, the trail is easy to follow. There are views of the trailhead area for Hunter Canyon as the trail climbs.

 From above, the meanders of Hunter Canyon are visible as is the large Hunter Arch. The views of Hunter Arch continue for most of this segment. The closest views of Hunter Arch are an end on angle, without much of the opening visible. After about 1.5 miles, the single track trail becomes a 4WD trail.

 A short distance along the 4WD segment, there is a junction with a side road leading up a side canyon toward an alcove. At the junction, there might also be a view of the top of the Halls Bridge Arch.

In the alcove, there is a small ruins site. The main structure still intact looks like a granary storage site. There is other rubble and a circular depression in the alcove, but not much else is intact. In the Arches and Canyonlands area, there is a lot of rock art, but not many ruins structures. It took about 0:15 minutes to walk the side trail to the ruins site and my total time on this segment was 0:40 minutes.
From the ruins trail junction, my return hike took 1:25 hours. Hiking the final descent was as confusing as the start. My total hike took 4:40 hours counting 1:00 hour off the track for about 4 miles. On a sunny mid April day it was 48 F degrees at 9:45 AM and 66 F degrees 2:25 PM. I carried 3 liters of water and drank most of it.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Sevenmile Rim and Uranium Arch

The access for the Sevenmile Rim Trail can be found 0.6 miles north of Highway 313, north of Moab in southeast Utah. Highway 313 is the route to the Island of the Sky District of Canyonlands National Park. From the large gravel area, I continued 2 miles north on the Cotter Mine gravel road to the trailhead sign and started hiking there.

The overall Sevenmile Rim Trail is about 20 miles for off road vehicles. Uranium Arch can be reached after about 3.5 miles of hiking. The first part of the route switchbacks up to the mesa top and the rim area. There are many side roads in this area and they are confusing. The main route is marked with small signs that say “7R”. After about 30 minutes of hiking I arrived on top at a 3 way junction, with both routes marked, and 7R stays to the left.

The terrain here is sandy and rocky with scattered Pinon Pines and Utah Junipers, Mormon Tea, Narrowleaf Yucca, Blackbrush, Cliff Rose, and Prickly Pear Cactus. There are views toward the LaSal Mountains to the east and the Merrimac and Monitor Buttes to the west. The walking is easy and there are obstacles for Jeeps and ATV riders. The route passes along the head of Corral Canyon and crosses a drainage and passes a mine site.

About 1 mile from Uranium Arch, BLM signs appear pointing the shortest easiest way to this large arch. Following the signs will be a detour off of the 7R trail but it is possible to loop back onto 7R. An interpretive sign at the arch site describes the geological processes that form the arch and mention that it is in the Kayenta Sandstone layer.

There is also a description of the Uranium mining history in the Sevenmile Rim area. Some fencing in the area is intended to protect the desert vegetation and Riding with Respect in emphasized. It took me about 1:30 hours to arrive at Uranium Arch.

A side branch from the 7R Trail is visible as painted white stripes that descend to the arch site from the right side of the formation. Uranium Arch can be viewed from both sides down below and can also be easily viewed from above.

It is worthwhile to follow striped route up and rejoin the 7R Trail for the spectacular views from the rim. The return hike continues to be confusing with the many side trails. My total hike took 3:20 hours for about 7 miles. I carried and drank 2 liters of water on a 56 F degree early March day. I saw one other hiker and 1 Jeep during my hike.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Willow Springs Trail and Leaping Arch

The Willow Springs 4WD road begins on the west side of the Arches National Park main road across from the parking area for Balanced Rock. 

The first 0.8 miles passes a small picnic area and is easily drivable. Beyond the picnic area there is a junction with the 4WD road that leads to Klondike Bluffs and both roads become much rougher.

I started my hike at the junction and continued hiking west toward the Willow Springs area. The wide views straight ahead are toward the spectacular Moab Rim.

The views back toward the jumbled Balanced Rock area are also eye popping. To the north, there is a view of the south side of the Eye of the Whale Arch. The desert terrain here is mostly treeless with Mormon Tea, Blackbrush, Rabbitbrush, and grasses. The walking is easy on the dirt road. In mid February, there are small patches of snow.

It took me 1:15 hours to reach the park boundary sign. The sign where I started hiking said it was 4 miles to the boundary but it felt more like 3 miles. There is a large drainage near the park boundary that runs back to the northeast. I didn’t notice any flowing water or willows along the road, or any sign that identified the Willow Springs.
I turned and followed the drainage northeast back toward the large sandstone outcrops that include Eye of the Whale Arch and Leaping Arch. The hiking in the drainage was mostly easy on a wide swath of sand. There are a few pour over points that are easy to walk around. At the northwest corner of the rock formations I found a side drainage to follow east along the north of the rocks. There is a series of fins along here with Leaping Arch appearing in one of the fins.

It took me another 1:25 hours to find Leaping Arch, about 2 miles from the park boundary following the wide sandy drainage. Approaching from the west, Leaping Arch isn’t visible until you are nearly alongside it. It is possible to climb up closer and get a blue sky view from below.
Leaping Arch is only 0:15 minutes of hiking west of the Eye of the Whale Arch Trail, but it is not mentioned on the park map and there aren’t any signs pointing it out. Once you know to look for it, both arches are visible at the same time along the Klondike Bluffs 4WD road.
From Leaping Arch, it is about 2 miles along the Klondike Bluffs Road back to the junction. Near Leaping Arch, there are very good views of the snowy LaSal Mountains with the sandstone of Arches National Park in the foreground. My total hike following the loop route took 4:00 hours for about 7 miles. It was 38 F degrees when I started at about 11:00 AM and about 50 F at 3:00 when I finished on a mild mid February day.