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Delicate Arch Trail

 124 votes

Length

3.1 Miles 5.0 Kilometers

87%

Runnable

Elevation

567' 173 m

Ascent

-567' -173 m

Descent

7%

Avg Grade (4°)

32%

Max Grade (18°)

4,816' 1,468 m

High

4,307' 1,313 m

Low

Conditions


All Clear 62 days ago
Dry - Completely, perfectly normal! History

Getting forecast...

Sure, you've seen the pictures, but an in-person visit to this über-classic arch is not to be missed

Megan W

Overview

Delicate Arch is a magnificent, free-standing arch recognized the world over. This trail to its base is fun-filled and unique- visiting petroglyphs and a smaller arch, climbing slickrock hillsides and traversing an exciting, exposed ledge.
Features: Views
Dogs: No Dogs

Need to Know

Just before you get to Delicate Arch, the trail goes along a rock ledge for about 200 yards. This part is not scary for those without an extreme fear of heights, but a stumble here could have consequences.

Runner Notes

Don't be fooled by the short distances - take water and wear sun protection. Go early or late to avoid the crowds that clog this popular trail.

Description

It is a given that everyone wants to see the Delicate Arch with their own eyes, right? But not everyone has the same time available or physical abilities. So there are 3 good options:

1.) Lower Delicate Arch Viewpoint Trail: short, flat, paved, wheelchairs OK.
2.) Upper Delicate Arch Viewpoint Trail: moderate half mile climb to viewpoint on cliffs across from the arch
3.) Delicate Arch Trail: more strenuous, 3 mile round trip to the base of Delicate Arch (described in detail below)

This is a trail description for the Delicate Arch Trail (to the base of the arch): starting from the parking lot at Wolfe Ranch, head northeast on the wide trail over mostly level ground. Almost immediately on the left, you'll pass the Old Wolfe Ranch (log cabin, root cellar, and corral used in the late 1800's). A bridge over the overgrown Salt Wash brings you to the Petroglyph Interpretive Trail. This easy loop visits a small panel of carved Ute Indian petroglyphs thought to be created after these native people acquired horses in the 1600's.

Continue on the Delicate Arch trail through dry desert terrain, occasionally passing stunted trees or rock piles providing welcome shade. Take these rare opportunities when you can, there is hardly any shade on this trail. Start ascending up red dirt hillsides before arriving at enormous tan slickrock slabs. This part of the trail crosses open rock with the route marked only with cairns. Keep an eye out for these rock piles, but if you lose the trail it helps to look for others on the trail or simply head uphill- you are likely to come across the path again.

Finally, the grade eases a bit and you leave the crevassed slickrock behind to climb smooth sandstone on the final approach to the arch. Follow the airy stone ramp on a slight incline as it contours around the backside of an imposing rock tower. This exposed part lasts about 200 yards but the path surface is about 3 feet wide at it's narrowest, so don't let this discourage you from completing this superlative trail.

Emerge through a break in the formation to be dazzled by the Delicate Arch in all its glory. One of the best features of this trail is the surprise reveal saved for the very end! Delicate Arch presides over an amphitheater-like bowl that can become over-run with admirers. It used to be part of the upper Entradea sandstone fin before erosion and wind weathered away the sandstone to leave what we see today. When you are finished ogling the arch, retrace your steps back to Wolfe Ranch. Unless you are more observant than most, you likely missed Frame Arch just around the corner (on the main path to Delicate Arch). This is worth looking for on the return trip and is also a favorite place to frame pictures of Delicate Arch through its window.

Some words to the wise: take at least 1 quart (1 liter) of water per person, wear a hat, use sunscreen, take breaks. Visit early or late in the day if you want to avoid the crowds on this extremely popular trail. Late afternoon is thought to be the best time to photograph Delicate Arch for the best color. Note: no bikes allowed on this trail.

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Check-Ins

May 25, 2018
Amanda Wright
3.1mi
Jan 5, 2018
Wesley Berg
Woah, awesome arch! Tricky footing with ice. Big drop offs. Got to arch at sunset and hiked back down in soft pink light.
Jan 28, 2017
Kat Morrow
Nov 22, 2016
Maxim Neumann
Hike with family
Sep 23, 2016
Jay Lund
Walked the trail on this occasion.....will run it next time.
May 24, 2015
Andriuss LT
Better run early in the morrning. To meet the sun :) — 0h 40m

Trail Ratings

  4.6 from 123 votes

#11

Overall
  4.6 from 123 votes
5 Star
70%
4 Star
26%
3 Star
2%
2 Star
2%
1 Star
0%
Rankings

#4

in Utah

#11

Overall
517 Views Last Month
7,468 Since Mar 5, 2015
Intermediate Intermediate

2%
25%
59%
12%
1%
0%

 
If you want to run it fast, go early. Like be there before sunrise to stretch and warm up. Otherwise there will be crowds of people on the path. Wear good shoes. Worn soles could cause a slip. My best time is 24:25. But I think it could be run in under 20 minutes by a really good runner (from the parking lot to touching the arch, and back to the parking lot). Jul 21, 2015
Run in fall, winter, or spring as summer will be packed with tourists by sunrise. BRING WATER, the air is dry and you will dehydrate quickly even in cool weather. Jan 8, 2018

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