Thursday, March 29, 2012

Poison Spider Trail to Longbow Arch

The Poison Spider Trail is a popular mountain bike and off road vehicle trail. The trailhead parking area is 6.2 miles west along Highway 279, or Potash Road, on the north side of Moab in southeast Utah. Highway 279 begins across from the entrance to Arches National Park.

The popular destination on the Poison Spider Trail is Little Arch after 5.7 miles of spectacular desert country. There is also a shorter hike to the lesser known Longbow Arch.

The first segment of trail climbs by switchbacks on a rough cobbled road. There are good views of the slow flowing Colorado River as the trail climbs. At the Poison Spider Trailhead there is a short trail leading to a dinosaur track. Look above the dinosaur track for another interesting feature.

After about 0:30 minutes of hiking the trail levels out and there is a vague trail marked to the right. Vehicles and bikes are prohibited on this side trail that leads up a north leading side canyon but hikers can continue.
 There isn’t a marked route. The first segment is over large sandstone outcrops. Further on there is a sandy drainage to follow with more large outcrops of sandstone. It is about 0.5 miles to the head of this small canyon. The footing on the loose sand was somewhat tiring.

Longbow Arch is in a narrow chute on the right at the upper end of the side canyon. You can’t see the arch until you are abreast of the side chute. The chute is narrow and rocky but can be climbed and there is a ledge to stand on below the arch. There are some hiker made paths in the vegetation to look for when climbing, but much of the climb is on jumbled rocks.
The trail up enters the ledge from the right side and there is a blue sky angle. It took me about 1:00 hour to arrive below Longbow Arch.

My total hike to Longbow Arch took 2:15 hours on a 68 F degree late March day. There was a lot of activity on the Poison Spider Trail on a perfect spring day but no other hikers on this scenic side trip.