“The greatest concentration of arches outside of Utah with a scramble through the final arch.
— Andrew Walters
Cave · Views · Wildlife
Backcountry camping restrictions from the BLM - "NOTE: Overnight camping is prohibited in and around the arches, along the cherry stem road (last 1.5 miles of access road), and the parking area at the trailhead. Use of firepans and/or stoves may be prohibited during high fire danger periods." Check with the BLM regarding fire restrictions if you plan on camping out.
This route links up some of the best canyon country wilderness in the Grand Valley. The second greatest concentration of arches outside of Arches National Park, singletrack that weaves along the cliff edge for miles and an abundance of solitude. You might see some horses on the lower trail sections, but the trail is generally wide enough for you to allow them to pass safely.
Need to Know
Bring plenty of water as there are zero reliable sources and no water at the trailhead. Avoid this trail if rain is imminent. Flash floods and sticky mud are inevitable in wet conditions.
If climbing through the last arch you should be confident scrambling up third/fourth class terrain. It is possible to see the arches without climbing by simply retracing the trail. If you are wanting a shorter, easier option, just do the Pollack Bench Loop, the footing is great and this a trail that works for all runners.
Starting from the Pollock Bench Trailhead, follow signage for the trail Pollock Bench Trail - P1 as it climbs up out of the parking lot. Around 1.6 miles there will be a junction, head left to enjoy the P1 - Pollock Bench Trail
while cruising downhill. At the top of the next climb you'll reach a junction with the Flume Canyon Trail network. Stay right to reach the spectacular section along the edge of the canyon's rim. After a couple of miles on the edge you'll reach a junction heading uphill to the right for horses, stay to the left along the canyon edge until you reach the next junction which should have signs directing you to go left onto the Rattlesnake Canyon Arches Trail - R1
Once on the main trail, it is well marked with signposts, cairns and a well-worn track as it weaves in and out of washes, and over sandstone slick rock. After a long and loose climb up to the beginning of the long traverse, around mile 6 you'll come to a junction with the Upper Rattlesnake Arches Trail
(note that for a shorter/easier run, you can simply loop back to the start on the P1 - Pollack Bench Trail at this point). Go right, cruising over flat ground as you reach the final sandstone cliff formation. When you round the final corner, start looking up and left to see the arches. You'll pass by a number of smaller arches, finally arriving at Rattlesnake Arch
(the main event). Continue another quarter of a mile to the final arch (Cedar Arch). Here there will be a sign indicating you have reached the end of the trail. You can either turn around here, or scramble through the arch via some steep chopped steps (Class 3/4) and join the Upper Rattlesnake Arches Trail
If you choose to scramble, go through the arch and head right to get on a doubletrack trail. At the first junction you reach, head left and down off the top of the mesa back to the trail you came up earlier. Retrace your steps all the way back to the junction with the P1 - Pollock Bench Trail
. Take a left to join the P1 - Pollock Bench Trail
, stay left at the next junction to avoid the horse cut-off, and then enjoy the smooth trail as it winds across the mesa top through grasses and cacti. Back at the first junction of the day, stay left to head back to the parking lot.
Flora & Fauna
Lots of standard high desert pinyon-juniper ecology, desert bighorn, and prime mountain lion terrain.