Druid Arch Hike — Canyonlands Needles district

In February of this year, Mom and Dad had gone on a camping and hiking trip without us.  They did an 18 mile day hike through Big Springs and Squaw Canyon in the Needles district of Canyonlands, to see Druid Arch.  The hike was a lollipop loop with a stick at both ends, and we were anxious to follow their track.  We left the little kids with them over the weekend and headed down to Canyonlands early on Friday.  When we got there at 5:00. the campground was full, and we were worried we wouldn’t even be able to camp in the BLM land outside the park because it was UEA weekend and the spots were packed.  Fortunately, we found an excellent spot near some big rocks.  Although we had plenty of company — people in spots at either side of us — the rocks were wonderful and the night sky was fantastically dark.  We saw the Milky Way splashed across the entire sky, and we found out later that a meteor shower was responsible for the number of falling stars we saw.

Our camera was nearly out of batteries, so Eden served as our photographer for the hike.  Therefore, more pictures of me than usual.  Although we didn’t get started as early as we would have liked on Saturday morning, we loaded up our backpacks and headed down the trail by about 8:45.  The first part of the trail was quite flat, and we covered the first three miles in about one hour.  We took the left branch of the loop first, heading down into Big Spring Canyon.  This eventually led us up a long steep climb over sandstone to a high saddle.  Going down the other side, we followed a huge steep pour off, and then slid through a narrow crack to shortcut into another canyon.

Do I look like I am saying “Really?!”  Yes.  There is a cairn in there.  There were old branches stuck in the bottom of this crack which served as the trail through this slot.  To get out of the next canyon, we climbed up one ladder and down another.  This was the second of three canyons on this trail.

The hike up to Druid Arch is a pretty straightforward wash hike.  There are some well cairned bypass trails around deep potholes.  There is also one more ladder, with a metal pole to brace your feet on as you cross the top boulder.

After retracing 2 and a half miles to the loop trail, we took the rest of the loop back to the campground.  Although it was a great hike with plenty of views, and a short slot,  it did not compare to the Big Springs/Squaw Canyons loop.  If we were to do this trail again, we would go back the way we came in.  Few hikes are as exhilarating or challenging without climbing as this one was.  When we got back to the parking lot, my GPS read 16 miles, so not quite the 18 we were prepared for.  We had stopped for two “lunch” breaks, and were back to the car by 4:00.  The temperature was fantastic at 70 degrees, plenty sunny but not too hot.  It was a great hike, highly recommended!

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  1. Hiking Anniversary Snapshot « anothergranolamom

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