Friday, October 4, 2019

William Grandstaff Trail, near Arches National Park, UT, May 2, 2019

This hike was from way back in late spring, on my Capitol Reef/Arches trip. I had been in the area the previous fall, and managed to hike many of the better-known hikes: Park Avenue, Delicate Arch, the Windows Section, Landscape, Navajo, and Partition Arches, both the main spur of Island in the Sky district of Canyonlands National Park, and and Upheaval Dome.

I actually thought that was most of the Park, so I wanted to hike some areas outside of the main section of Arches. (In retrospect, the areas inside the "main area" and beyond the boundaries of Arches and Canyonlands are numerous enough that I want to get back there relatively soon. Unfortunately, I didn't have as much time to research additional areas before my May trip).
So, in my quick research effort, I thought that the area along the Colorado River might be interesting. I had driven part of that a number of years ago, and thought returning there would be fruitful. I settled on an area that the federal government is trying to repopularlize as "Grandstaff Trail."
"Grandstaff" is William Grandstaff, an early African American settler in the area. Because of those facts, the Wilderness Study Area is actually known by a more common but also more offensive moniker.

The trailhead is located on UT-128, three miles east of US-191. The trail ends at a large natural bridge, "Morning Glory Bridge."

The trail begins adjacent to a small creek, which is your company for much of this hike. In places, the creek undercut sandstone. In other areas, the valley is wide.
That means some areas may be shaded, but others are exposed. It can definitely get warm here, even by late spring.
The small stream was running well. I feel like it's spring-fed, so I'm pretty sure the flow was not unusual.

The water, of course, also undercut the natural bridge (by definition). It's still set up right against a cliff, however, and so not super obvious or easily seen until you're practically there.
Still some wildflowers when I walked, as well. It was a nice hike. Plenty of people, but not like the trails in Arches, at least.

It's a little over four miles, out and back and about 400 feet of altitude change. So that's mostly flat, although obviously uphill, some, since the water's running towards you the entire way. Several stream crossings, too but an easy hike, at least when I went.
More ambitious types apparently start some place much further above the natural bridge hike, then rappel down the sandstone, between the cliff and the natural bridge. I didn't research this, however. I just observed two groups come down in just the half-hour or so I was shooting pictures at the natural bridge.
The first group included a dog. Well-trained, since I'm sure that going over a cliff is not a natural inclination for a dog. But the dog did fine.
By the way, you can see the man and dog in the first shot of this post. He's also in the last four obviously.
I have no firm plans, but I may try to make it back here next spring, or next fall.

In addition to the areas around Arches, I would also like to visit Fremont Indian State Park, which is sort of along the way. Not sure, though. There are several days of things to do in Arches, already. And it's a two day drive each way, so it's a six day or so trip, minimum.

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