At the end of my trip to Utah, just before heading back to Salt Lake City, I took a small detour away from Moab. I followed the Colorado River around Poison Spider Mesa to hike Corona Arch. It ended up being my favorite hike of the trip, and was short and hot.
From the parking area on Potash Road, along the Colorado River, I followed the well-worn trail past Bowtie Arch to Corona Arch and returned the same route. The hike was across desert and red slickrock and featured a few spots with cables and ladders to assist the hike. The entire hike was very exposed to the sun, so it would be best to hike early in the morning or late in the day. In total, the hike was 2.5 miles with little elevation gain and only took me an hour and a half to compelete.
I arrived at the parking lot just before noon and there were three other cars in the lot despite it being the middle of the day and scorching hot. From the parking lot the trail climbed steeply to reach a railroad track cut into Bootlegger Canyon.
The track was protected by barbed-wire fence and had a U-turn entrance on either side, presumably preventing cattle from entering. The track turned out of sight through a man-made crevice. I stopped briefly to listen for a train before continuing on.
On the other side of the track the trail had a fairly nice view of the Colorado River and distant desert before making a turn past canyon walls leading to the desert above. On the other side of the wall I found a bit of shade with a middle-aged couple resting in it. It was just about the only shade available during the hike.
After climbing out of the canyon, the trail cut through the sparse desert brush. Looking back I could see the canyon cut by the Colorado River. Continuing to follow it would eventually lead to Canyonlands National Park where it meets the Green River.
After the short desert section the trail reentered Bootlegger Canyon, but higher up the canyon wall. The trail turned to slickrock and entered a peculiar field of cairns.
After the cairns the trail bent around the canyon wall with cables on one side preventing a slip to the floor below. I finally got a peek into Bootlegger Canyon and though the arches I was hiking to were in sight, I did not notice them blended in with the sandstone backdrop.
The trail reached another cable, this one climbed up a steep bit of slickrock with crude steps cut into it. Once on top the worn trail continued to a short metal ladder climbing the last bit of elevation toward the arches. Finally up to their height, I noticed Bowtie and Corona Arches across the canyon.
The trail looped around the canyon wall and approached the arches from the left. I passed a family of four hiking back and noticed a fifth person approaching Corona Arch. I took my time peering up at Bowtie Arch, allowing the solo hiker some time alone with Corona. But honestly Bowtie paled in comparison to the nearby Corona Arch.
At 12:30 pm I approached Corona Arch as the solo hiker was heading away. I was astounded by the height and mass of it. I sat in its shadow and had a snack and a lot of water. I approached its base and noted with disgust the graffiti carved into the sandstone. No respect for natural beauty.
Before heading back I passed below the arch to its far side to get a photo of it looking out toward the mouth of Bootlegger Canyon. A little climb up the slickrock brought me to a ledge allowing for the perfect angle of the arch.
I returned the way I came, stopping only to take a few photos. Above the ladder was a great shot of a stunted Ponderosa with nearby slickrock layers and the head wall of Bootlegger Canyon in the background. A photo I would retake the following year.
The hike out was very hot. When I got back to the overlook of the Colorado River and Gold Bar, a sandbar in the river, I noted how empty the Gold Bar campground was and decided I would go there for lunch.
Down at one of the shaded group picnic areas, I took all of my gear out of the rental car and organized it on the table. I cooked and ate lunch, changed my clothes and repacked for my flight from Salt Lake City later that night. Moab was full of outdoor adventures, I could not wait to return.
Date Hiked: 29 August 2016
Elevation Gain: 600′
Distance: 2.5 miles
Book Time: 1:35
Actual Time: 1:30
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