This is another loop trail that packs a big punch scenery-wise in
just 7/10ths of a mile. We turned it into a mile by going out and back
on a spur trail to an overlook.
It's great fun to see if you can find the 15 advertised rock arches
or "windows" (also called "keyholes") in the rock walls.
If you go slowly enough and look up, back, and around frequently, you can
find even more than those.
It's good competition for kids and
The large arches/windows are easy
Smaller ones are more difficult
to see. This one is visible because of the blue sky behind it.
You get more points for finding
little ones like this! (You can play this game at Bryce Canyon, too.)
Small windows with the same or
similar color of rock behind them are harder to see.
I prefer to get the camera
positioned with blue sky behind the windows so the colors pop.
Most of the trails in Red Canyon and Bryce Canyon I've hiked solo
before cajoling Jim to join me. This one we discovered together, with
both dogs, on our first Saturday morning in the area.
It was fun to share it with another person and two curious Labrador
retrievers who appreciated all the views, nooks, and crannies:
Did I mention that it's a photographer's paradise?
This whole canyon is (and much of the rest of southern Utah,
for that matter). I took so many pictures over the month we've been at
Red Canyon that it's had to choose which ones to put on the website. It
often takes me more time to edit them than it took to do
the hike and take the photos!
Framed! With such
fascinating material to photograph, it's a wonder I get through my hikes
as I do. Framing interesting backgrounds with rock windows is one
of my favorite tricks.
Have I convinced you to take the time to do this hike before or after
going to Bryce Canyon? Yes or no, keep reading and/or scrolling through
the photos and at least enjoy it vicariously.
The trailhead for the Arches Trail is at the parking area for the Losee
Canyon Trail, two miles back dirt/gravel Casto Canyon Road between Red
Canyon Village RV Park and the west entrance to Red Canyon.
Here's another section of the large trail map on the USAF's Red Canyon
We didn't know how good of a road this is so we took the truck. It's
smooth enough that on subsequent trips back Casto Canyon Road we drove
the Odyssey minivan.
The road crosses at least one wash soon after you
turn off Scenic Hwy. 12 but it's been dry each time we went back the
road this fall. It drains quickly after rain. If you go another mile
farther to Casto Canyon you'll drive through a couple more washes.
The one right before Casto Canyon did have a bit of water in it.
Approaching Losee Canyon parking
area on the right; the Arches Trail gets up on those rocks (arrow).
The Arches Trail is foot-only but lots of equestrians and mountain
bikers use the Losee and Casto Canyon Trails. ATVs are also allowed in
Casto Canyon (not Losee). We often saw horse and ATV trailers parked
near Hwy. 12 and back at the trailheads. Some folks also dry-camp back there.
The road is all right for RVs of all sizes.
When we arrived at the Losee parking area on the Saturday we
hiked the Arches Trail a horse event was in progress; this was
one of their crewing points on a long ride. We talked with the folks who
were there and let our dogs sniff their dogs at the beginning and end of our hike.
We were up on a high overlook on
the Arches Trail when I zoomed in on these three equestrians
approaching the trailhead. The
event wasn't over; I assume they were just letting the horses cool down.
Horses and riders resting and
re-hydrating at the aid station (Losee Canyon TH)
Once again, we didn't see any other hikers on the Arches Trail.
Another well-kept secret, apparently.
OK, LET'S GO HIKING . . .
Like some of the other trails in Red Canyon, you have to cross a dry
wash to get on the Arches Trail:
The rest of the photos are pretty much in order of how we hiked the
Up through another smaller wash
(lots of washes around here)
We don't know what this is for --
no interpretive signs. The "door" is only about a foot high.
In about 2/10ths of a mile you have a choice: go left or
straight ahead. When you get to the loop part of the lollypop
configuration you can go either CW or CCW.
left and went CW. I'm not sure why, but I usually do that on a
As we climbed higher we could see down to the parking
area (below left in next photo) and farther into the distance.
Arrow marks another tiny window
Up through some spites
This trail is more difficult to hike than some of the others I've
written about so far because of a few short, steep sections, lots of
rocks and steps, and loose rocks. Those always give me grief.
This is not a trail for running -- many others in Red
Canyon are more suited for that. People shouldn't be in a hurry on this
trail anyway because there is so much to see up close and in the
distance. Just stop often, look around, and watch your step.
Up some more to another level
At the next level we had another choice: continue to the
right on the main trail, where we could see a bunch of large windows, or
go left on a narrow spur trail for a couple hundred feet to an overlook
on a flat ledge.
Always curious, we went left to see what we could see over
Watch out for the serpent's head
(above) and spiny monster with eyes (below)
along the spur trail. Or is my
imagination just running wild?
Those formations don't look so
ominous from out on the
little plateau (ledge) with great views
in every direction.
Near the end of the overlook Jim
and Casey watch horses coming down Casto Canyon Rd.
View the other direction (north)
on Casto Canyon Rd.
Looking east to Losee Canyon; a
trail goes several miles back
and makes a long loop with Casto
Canyon and other trails.
WHERE ARE ALL THE WINDOWS, SUE??
OK, OK. When we returned to the main loop trail we found windows galore,
mostly large ones you can't miss, on the far side of the loop
near the highest point.
The trail conveniently arcs around the main window wall, giving hikers
the opportunity to photograph it from many angles -- and kids of
all ages the chance to play in/with the arches:
View of window wall from a distance
High point on trail as we got closer to the wall of
Above and below: As you can see, Jim and
Casey had a lot of fun with the windows!
Above and below: around the other side of the
I didn't climb in any of the windows but I had my own kind of fun --
photographing windows and hoodoos, framing distant scenes like one shown
farther above, using my imagination about what certain rocks resembled
. . .
This looks kind of like a crown (left)
While I was taking a lot more photographs on the far side of the loop
(many more than shown here), Jim and Casey patiently waited in the shade
on the trail below:
After contouring around the east side of the hill we dropped down
into the canyon rather abruptly, completed the loop, and returned to the
trailhead on the same part of the trail where we started:
There isn't a lot of elevation gain and loss on this trail, just
continual up and down.
The low point is the wash at 6,775 feet. The two highest points we
reached, one on the spur trail and the other near the wall of windows, are
about 6,965 feet. In a mile we had a total elevation gain and loss of
only 420 feet.
Note: I didn't show nearly all the arches/windows here.
Have fun finding them on your own! I had fund doing that on the trails
at Bryce Canyon, too.
Next entry: hiking on the Losee and Casto Canyon Trails (hiking, cycling, horseback riding
+ ORVs in Casto Canyon )
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
Cody the ultra Lab, and Casey-pup
© 2015 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil