UT_2014-01: Devil's Garden

This is the third time that we have hiked the Devils Garden. It is one of my favorite day hikes in the National Parks System. It is a good challenge, but not overly difficult. And best of all, there is beautiful scenery along every step of the trail. Plus the character of the trail changes several times throughout the loop, so there is good variety along the trail as well. But this is the earliest that we have reached the trailhead and this point made a big difference. First of all, we found a parking spot! In the past we probably arrived mid to late morning and the place was packed, so we had to park on the shoulder along the access road. Of course that is not a problem now as the Park Service has added a lot of parking along the access loop which is a good thing. But today when we arrived there were only a dozen or so cars in the lot, if that many. The second key point is that an early start means that we are beating the heat of the day (90-plus predicted) as well the afternoon thunderstorms that are in the forecast. Right now it is slightly overcast and very pleasant for hiking; probably in the 60s this morning. We were on the trail just before 8:00 AM. Due to the overcast photos at Pine Tree and even Landscape Arch were just OK, but the sight of these arches was still magnificent. But once we were past Navajo Arch, we had great light and my kind of palette (the multiple hues of the desert rocks, the blue sky and the white clouds…I just think that this is the best!). Even after the sky broke up and the sun peaked out, there was still a nice breeze so we were very comfortable throughout the hike. We hiked the main trail out to Double O Arch then continued around the primitive trail plus we did all the spur trails to the various points-of-interest around the loop. There are several areas along this route that I think are just really cool. Obviously Landscape Arch is a highlight. At 306 feet this is the longest span in the park as well as the longest on the planet (OK, the signage in the park indicated 306 feet but surveys by the Natural Arch and Bridge Society put the span at 290 feet. Whatever the measurement is, this is an amazing natural wonder). I also like the walk up the fin where Wall Arch used to stand and the views from Partition Arch which is adjacent to Landscape Arch. I walked beyond Partition Arch a bit to see if there was much of a view of Landscape Arch from the backside; not really. Then I walked through Partition to get a better view of the vista; now that was truly impressive. Still a little subdued due to the overcast, but the sun was starting to break through. It is just a nice overview of the desert landscape from this vantage point. We noted a new fad on the spur leading to Navajo Arch. The fan adjacent to this spur bears a lot of erosion which forms a series of holes and shelves in the sandstone. Folks much have thought that these shelves would have a great curio cabinet as there were hundreds of little rock cairns and other sculptures built on the shelves and other openings in the fin. Sort of like Buddha Beach near Red Rock Crossing in Sedona. Interesting phenomenon; perhaps the tourists just feel that they need to leave their mark. I reckon these are not hurting anything and they could be removed if the Park Service deemed them an issue. Certainly not a permanent mark, like scratching initials in the rock like some morons feel that they have to do. (Trust me, nobody cares that “Johnny was here” or that “AJ luvs TC”). The part of the trail that runs along the back of a side sandstone fin between the Navajo Arch spur and Double O Arch is always a highlight as there are wonderful views in all directions; to the east out over the maze of fins and to the west over Salt Flats and Klondike Bluff. There was quite a bit of wind today when we got to this exposed part of the trial. Fortunately the fin is very wide so there is no real danger of falling, but the wind did add a little excitement. This trip the clouds provided extra interest to the vistas from this section of the trail as well. Double O is the end of the primary trail, and seems to be the end of the trail for most visitors. While we were earlier arriving at Double O than on our past hikes, there was still a decent crowd milling about, including the guided hike of a dozen or so Europeans who we have been following around this morning. They obviously got an even earlier start today. Anyway, Double O is another of many amazing arches in the park. A bonus of getting here a little earlier is that the sun is not directly in your eyes (or camera lens) when you first see the arch. We climbed through the lower opening and scrambled up to the view point on the far side of the arch. This is where you can get a nice view back through Double O, using the arch as a frame for the desert landscape beyond. Now here is where we saw our first stupid person trick of the trip (and there would be others), as we witnessed not one but two hikers scale Double O and walk along its span. That is a pretty high perch and the wind we experienced along the fin would certainly increase the level of difficulty, but these two young mountain goats seemed to handle it well. I talked to one of the climbers when he came down and he said that the wind was not an issue and that the scramble up was very easy. However, I later learned that it is illegal to climb on the names arches in the park, so stay off for your own safety and to preserve the natural wonders. Unlike our previous two hikes through the Devils Garden, this time we took the spur out to the varnish covered obelisk known as Dark Angel. So glad that we did as there are great views out over the Salt Flats and Klondike Bluff plus the close in views of Dark Angel provide some interesting photographic opportunities. Plus we got our first good view of a good size yellow-spotted lizard, who kindly posed for a few photos. It was our first sighting of a long-nosed leopard lizard. So on to the primitive trail. I really enjoy hiking around and over the fins through this part of the hike. The trail covers a lot of different terrain; through sandy washes, along the fins and up and over the fins. There is some scrambling involved, but nothing very technical and the trail is well marked. We included the spur out to Private Arch as well. This “short” spur was longer than indicated on the trail guide, but is still worth the hike. The arch is cut right out of a fin, so it provides a great example of how the arches form. I did walk along the back of the fin that contains the arch; this was before I knew that walking on the named arches was verboten. We saw a few more critters along this little spur; another leopard lizard and a very friendly chipmunk. After Private Arch we continued on along the primitive trail, working our way through the fins and washes. All was well until we rounded a turn and met an older couple in the trail. They seemed a little lost and I quickly saw why. The trail at this point was in the wash and worked through a short section between two sandstone fins, forming a channel is sort of steep walls. The problem was that the wash flooded; there was a pool filling the wash and it looked fairly deep. The gentleman had looked for alternative routes around the fins, to no avail. They were deciding whether to turn back when we came along. I looked at the situation and found a fairly easy route along the left side of the pool on the slickrock. I was able to coach everyone else across as well, but I did have to give them a pull to get them up the last steep bit. We all made it and we all stayed dry. Hey, it was not a big obstacle, but we all felt pretty good with our little bit of canyoneering. No other issues, other than some deep sand, for the remainder of the hike. The fins along the end of the primitive trail remind me of rows of old streamlined steam locomotives in a huge train yard (like the old “J” class from the Norfolk and Western or the engines that drove the 20th Century Limited for the New your Central). There is one final set tha

Hiking/Backpacking

Utah, United States
OhioHick photo
time : Sep 21, 2014 7:40 AM
duration : 5h 11m 12s
distance : 8.3 mi
total_ascent : 1070 ft
highest_point : 5502 ft
avg_speed : 1.6 mi/h
user_id : OhioHick
user_firstname : Allen
user_lastname : Arrington
This is the third time that we have hiked the Devils Garden. It is one of my favorite day hikes in the National Parks System. It is a good challenge, but not overly difficult. And best of all, there is beautiful scenery along every step of the trail. Plus the character of the trail changes several times throughout the loop, so there is good variety along the trail as well. But this is the earliest that we have reached the trailhead and this point made a big difference. First of all, we found a parking spot! In the past we probably arrived mid to late morning and the place was packed, so we had to park on the shoulder along the access road. Of course that is not a problem now as the Park Service has added a lot of parking along the access loop which is a good thing. But today when we arrived there were only a dozen or so cars in the lot, if that many. The second key point is that an early start means that we are beating the heat of the day (90-plus predicted) as well the afternoon thunderstorms that are in the forecast. Right now it is slightly overcast and very pleasant for hiking; probably in the 60s this morning. We were on the trail just before 8:00 AM. Due to the overcast photos at Pine Tree and even Landscape Arch were just OK, but the sight of these arches was still magnificent. But once we were past Navajo Arch, we had great light and my kind of palette (the multiple hues of the desert rocks, the blue sky and the white clouds…I just think that this is the best!). Even after the sky broke up and the sun peaked out, there was still a nice breeze so we were very comfortable throughout the hike. We hiked the main trail out to Double O Arch then continued around the primitive trail plus we did all the spur trails to the various points-of-interest around the loop. There are several areas along this route that I think are just really cool. Obviously Landscape Arch is a highlight. At 306 feet this is the longest span in the park as well as the longest on the planet (OK, the signage in the park indicated 306 feet but surveys by the Natural Arch and Bridge Society put the span at 290 feet. Whatever the measurement is, this is an amazing natural wonder). I also like the walk up the fin where Wall Arch used to stand and the views from Partition Arch which is adjacent to Landscape Arch. I walked beyond Partition Arch a bit to see if there was much of a view of Landscape Arch from the backside; not really. Then I walked through Partition to get a better view of the vista; now that was truly impressive. Still a little subdued due to the overcast, but the sun was starting to break through. It is just a nice overview of the desert landscape from this vantage point. We noted a new fad on the spur leading to Navajo Arch. The fan adjacent to this spur bears a lot of erosion which forms a series of holes and shelves in the sandstone. Folks much have thought that these shelves would have a great curio cabinet as there were hundreds of little rock cairns and other sculptures built on the shelves and other openings in the fin. Sort of like Buddha Beach near Red Rock Crossing in Sedona. Interesting phenomenon; perhaps the tourists just feel that they need to leave their mark. I reckon these are not hurting anything and they could be removed if the Park Service deemed them an issue. Certainly not a permanent mark, like scratching initials in the rock like some morons feel that they have to do. (Trust me, nobody cares that “Johnny was here” or that “AJ luvs TC”). The part of the trail that runs along the back of a side sandstone fin between the Navajo Arch spur and Double O Arch is always a highlight as there are wonderful views in all directions; to the east out over the maze of fins and to the west over Salt Flats and Klondike Bluff. There was quite a bit of wind today when we got to this exposed part of the trial. Fortunately the fin is very wide so there is no real danger of falling, but the wind did add a little excitement. This trip the clouds provided extra interest to the vistas from this section of the trail as well. Double O is the end of the primary trail, and seems to be the end of the trail for most visitors. While we were earlier arriving at Double O than on our past hikes, there was still a decent crowd milling about, including the guided hike of a dozen or so Europeans who we have been following around this morning. They obviously got an even earlier start today. Anyway, Double O is another of many amazing arches in the park. A bonus of getting here a little earlier is that the sun is not directly in your eyes (or camera lens) when you first see the arch. We climbed through the lower opening and scrambled up to the view point on the far side of the arch. This is where you can get a nice view back through Double O, using the arch as a frame for the desert landscape beyond. Now here is where we saw our first stupid person trick of the trip (and there would be others), as we witnessed not one but two hikers scale Double O and walk along its span. That is a pretty high perch and the wind we experienced along the fin would certainly increase the level of difficulty, but these two young mountain goats seemed to handle it well. I talked to one of the climbers when he came down and he said that the wind was not an issue and that the scramble up was very easy. However, I later learned that it is illegal to climb on the names arches in the park, so stay off for your own safety and to preserve the natural wonders. Unlike our previous two hikes through the Devils Garden, this time we took the spur out to the varnish covered obelisk known as Dark Angel. So glad that we did as there are great views out over the Salt Flats and Klondike Bluff plus the close in views of Dark Angel provide some interesting photographic opportunities. Plus we got our first good view of a good size yellow-spotted lizard, who kindly posed for a few photos. It was our first sighting of a long-nosed leopard lizard. So on to the primitive trail. I really enjoy hiking around and over the fins through this part of the hike. The trail covers a lot of different terrain; through sandy washes, along the fins and up and over the fins. There is some scrambling involved, but nothing very technical and the trail is well marked. We included the spur out to Private Arch as well. This “short” spur was longer than indicated on the trail guide, but is still worth the hike. The arch is cut right out of a fin, so it provides a great example of how the arches form. I did walk along the back of the fin that contains the arch; this was before I knew that walking on the named arches was verboten. We saw a few more critters along this little spur; another leopard lizard and a very friendly chipmunk. After Private Arch we continued on along the primitive trail, working our way through the fins and washes. All was well until we rounded a turn and met an older couple in the trail. They seemed a little lost and I quickly saw why. The trail at this point was in the wash and worked through a short section between two sandstone fins, forming a channel is sort of steep walls. The problem was that the wash flooded; there was a pool filling the wash and it looked fairly deep. The gentleman had looked for alternative routes around the fins, to no avail. They were deciding whether to turn back when we came along. I looked at the situation and found a fairly easy route along the left side of the pool on the slickrock. I was able to coach everyone else across as well, but I did have to give them a pull to get them up the last steep bit. We all made it and we all stayed dry. Hey, it was not a big obstacle, but we all felt pretty good with our little bit of canyoneering. No other issues, other than some deep sand, for the remainder of the hike. The fins along the end of the primitive trail remind me of rows of old streamlined steam locomotives in a huge train yard (like the old “J” class from the Norfolk and Western or the engines that drove the 20th Century Limited for the New your Central). There is one final set tha
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