This loop starts from Dry Creek Road (152), also known as Vultee Arch Road. To access the Brins Mesa Trailhead from the side requires a high clearance 4x4 vehicle. There are some amazing views from atop Brins Mesa and as you enter Soldier's Pass.
Features: Views — Wildflowers
Start early in the morning. There is a lot of sun exposure so bring a hat, sun block, and plenty of water.
For this loop, I started this from Vultee Arch Rd. to W. Park Ridge
Drive. In this direction, the trail starts off flat and crosses a dry creek bed several times. The trail is relatively easy to follow. This section passes through junipers that offer some shade. Eventually, the trail begins to climb exiting the creek bed and junipers. After about one mile, you'll have great views of the surrounding red rock.
The top of the mesa is really a pass as you are surrounded by higher elevation red rock. After passing a large peak near the trail on the right, the route begins to descend steeply. This would be a very difficult section if you run in the reverse direction. Short switchbacks take you down the bottom where the trail levels off again as you approach the trailhead at W. Park Ridge
Just before the parking area, on the right, you'll see Cibola Pass Trail
. Turn right here and follow the trail for about a half mile until you reach the junction with the Jordan Trail
. The two trails merge so just continue straight. After about another half mile you'll reach the Soldier Pass Trail
. You can't miss this as it has constructed stone cairns and signage. Turn right here.
Soldier Pass Trail
begins to climb gradually for about .25 mile when you reach Devils Kitchen, a sink hole with a large block of sandstone balanced on the side. About another .25 mile up the trail, you'll pass a series of seven potholes carved in the sandstone by water runoff.
The trail continues uphill and begins to get steeper. After about one mile from the trailhead, you can see Soldier's Pass Arch. Because of the open country, this remains in view for another half mile as the trail begins to get very steep. The Arch is difficult to spot but at mid-day you can clearly see light shining on the ground behind the arch. Access to the arch can be gained from the Brins Mesa Trail
The trail begins to even out and turn to the right where it will end on the Brins Mesa Trail
. Turn left and follow Brins Mesa Trail
back to the trailhead on Vultee Arch Road.