Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Moenkopi Arch Loop - 4/1/24

Calico Hills and La Madre Mountains from Moenkopi bike Trails

Moenkopi Arch

Wash below Moenkopi Arch

Heading over to Moenkopi Arch
The Moenkopi Formation is a geological formation that is spread across the southwestern United States including Nevada. It consists of thinly bedded sandstone, mudstone, and shale, with some limestone in the Capitol Reef area. It has a deep red color and tends to form slopes and benches. Generally, the layer was deposited by sluggish rivers traversing a flat, featureless coastal plain to the sea. Its low relief meant that the shoreline moved great distances with changes of sea level or tides. ~ Wikipedia~ (paraphrased)

The Moenkopi Formation is spread throughout Red Rock Canyon NCA and there are hikes that use it as their pavement. There is the Moenkopi Trail, Arch, Road and Trailhead located within the conservation area.

Calico Hills and Turtlehead Peak

Escarpment of North Blue Diamond Hill

Trail to Arch (seen in distance)

Trail to Arch
Sixteen hikers gathered at the Moenkopi Trailhead located not far from SR 159 on Moenkopi Road. This is the road that leads out to the Red Rock Canyon Campground and the BLM Fire Station. We began by crossing the road and heading straight out toward the city. At the first fork in the trail, we veered left and continued all the way to the hills where we turned right and continued our trek at the base of the hills. The arch came into view as we curved around the hills to the left. When we reached the saddle at the north end of the arch ridge, we noted that there is a small trail that leads up and along the rocky ridge. From previous experience, we knew that the trail does not reach the arch without balancing on a knife-edge of a sort. 

Saddle above Arch Ridge

Sixteen strong!

Sandstone Bluffs behind hiking Group

Large wash and backbone of trailing Ridge
Staying on the main trail, we continued snaking our way down a narrow trailing ridge next to a deep gulley. At an obvious point, we turned to our right and began a bushwhack diagonally down toward the south end of the arch ridge. Dipping into the wash at the bottom, we turned to the right and hiked up through the gravel. As we hiked below the arch up and to our right, we did a small amount of mild scrambling and found a rock for our break. Afterwards, we found a trail that climbs up the hill to the left to an arch overlook and continued north. Although it is tempting to turn back to the trail we came in on, we stayed the course in a straight line until we passed a huge cairn.

Las Vegas skyline from botton of Bushwhack

Short section of mild Scrambles

Taking a break at top of scrambles and below Moenkopi Arch

Climbing out of the Wash
All morning, the sky was incredibly gorgeous! And, now, we watched the sky the rest of the way back. A left, a right and a left brought us back to the same trail we started out on and back to the cars. It was a beautiful morning and everyone seemed to enjoy the outing. It could not have been prettier!

Stats: 5.5 miles; 700' gain; 2.75 hours

Large landmark cairn with 16 Hikers

Hiking back toward Trailhead

One more gorgeous View!

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