Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Jeep Arch (aka Gold Bar Arch) Gold Bar Wilderness Area, Moab, Utah - 10/12/14

Jeep Arch View from Approach

Colorado River as seen from Above the Trailhead

 The route to Jeep Arch (aka Gold Bar Arch) begins on Highway 279 approximately 10.5 miles from the Highway 191 junction going west. There is a turnout on the road or drive down to the parking area in front of the culvert. Seven hikers arrived at the trailhead early and ducked through the large corrugated metal culvert. Just past our exit from the culvert, we were surprised to see a nice sign pointing us in the direction of the Jeep Arch trail. The trail turned left and climbed up onto the plateau above the west side of the large forbidding wash.

Hiking the West Side of Culvert Canyon
 It was a chilly morning as we watched the sunlight rise on the canyon walls above. Wind was expected and it arrived along with blowing sand as we started the second mile. We donned our windbreakers and ignored the grit in our teeth.

Partial Loop Junction - Dust Storm Kicking Up

 The route slowly passed two huge cliffs on the east side of the canyon that could easily have been named Butt Rock. (Don't have a photo!) Then, we came to a little sign that indicated the partial loop junction. We went to the left of the sign and continued following the cairns. This route took us up between the pinnacle and rock in front of us. The wind was blowing pretty hard until we got to the other side of this rock island.

Climbing Up to the Arch on the Left Side
 After the pinnacle, we followed the trail through the desert as Jeep Arch began coming into view ahead and around the corner.

Arriving Inside the Arch

 There is a small scramble that takes hikers up into the arch found on the left side. We climbed up and took our break on the other side out of the wind. Below and to the right, we saw where the partial loop trail continued. It would loop back to that sign that we passed earlier. A second group of eight hikers took this route right after us. However, our group decided to explore a little and we headed back down the same side of the arch that we came up.

Mike and His Group Arrive at the Arch Area
 As we reached a point of separation from the main trail, the second group of hikers arrived. We talked for a minute then left them to enjoy the arch.

Exploring on the Slickrock

 Following old trails, small washes and slickrock while being very careful not to "bust the crust," we climbed up and over a nearby saddle and found our way down to a huge circular cliff. We were officially cliffed out. Realizing the difficulty in staying on the "safe" terrain, we decided to return to the main trail. We found an old trail that did exactly that and we arrived again at the pinnacle.

Cliffed Out - But, what a cliff!
 The wind was beginning to subside a bit but we could see the blowing sand in the near distance.

Back on the Main Trail

 When we reached the partial loop junction, we saw that the other group of hikers were on their way. We waited for them and all fifteen of us returned to the trailhead together. The hike was a nice warm-up to the day. Moderate hiking with an impressive destination.

5 miles; 1100 feet elevation gain; 2.75 hours

Descending Back to Culvert Wash

The Culvert "Portal"

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