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.