This trail is mostly on sandstone and sandy trail following ancient gulches. There will be a little scrambling up and over ledges, so be prepared. You'll enjoy amazing views of sandstone formations within the gulches all along the way. Spring and fall are the best times to conquer this trail. No matter the season, be sure to bring plenty of water, as there is none to be had once you've started.
Reaching the arch itself is a bit tricky and is not for the faint of heart as you have to climb up and over some very steep terrain and up a steep and slippery crevasse. Many do not make it the last 200 yards to actually see the arch due to this terrain. It is well worth the effort and is a mind over matter thing. Just watch your step. Camping permits are available for those wishing to extend their experience.
Deep sand, an ambiguous trail, and sandstone with steep walls and rocky areas make this a difficult and potentially dangerous run. Areas of the trail are decidedly not runnable.
Start at the Elephant Rock parking area where 4x4's head off into the canyons. You'll park here and this is a good time to utilize the bathroom facilities and make sure you have plenty of water and snacks.
From the start, the trail heads up into the sandstone and trees before gradually leveling out and following the top section of a sandstone formation. From here, you'll enjoy open gulches and spectacular views. The trail weaves around the formations and eventually heads down into one of the many gulches.
Navigation can be tricky, as there are many directions to take. Be sure you read the signage and head towards Druid Arch
, if that is your destination. There are a few established campsites along the way, up along the edges of the gulches, and they require a permit for use.
The gulch will gradually wind its way around many formations and possibly some puddles if it's rained recently. Be sure to look up and around as you go, taking in all the area has to offer. As you're heading up the gulch, it seems to narrow quickly after the 4.5 mile mark. Look for the trail to leave the gulch and head up onto the ledge to your left. If you miss the turn, you'll quickly run out of gulch and be forced to backtrack, so it's not a great loss.
The trail now runs along the ledge and has some step scrambles. Remember, going up is easy, it's the coming down that can be difficult! If you are wearing a pack, be sure to watch your body positioning in areas, so you don't get hung up or knock yourself off the ledge altogether.
The trail gradually opens back up into a box canyon with very steep sides and no way out. Here, you can go up to your left and climb a steel ladder that will take you up a steep runoff to the arch itself, or you can continue to your right where you'll catch a view of the arch after a little scrambling. If you take the right fork, you won't be able to reach the arch itself.
It's a good trail for all types, and the route is family-friendly for older kids. Keep an eye on each other and be safe.