2015  HIKING, CYCLING,

& RV TRAVEL ADVENTURES

Denali

 

   
 
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   RED CANYON TRAILS:  ARCHES --
HOW MANY "WINDOWS" CAN YOU FIND?

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 24

 
"Named for many small arches, this trail winds through a small rock cove.   
The single-track trail has steep sections with steps."
 
~ Red Canyon trail map web page, US Forest Service
 
 

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 adults alike.


The large arches/windows are easy to spot.


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 
fast 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.

GETTING THERE

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 website:

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 lollypop-shaped trail:


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.

We turned left and went CW. I'm not sure why, but I usually do that on a new trail:

 

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 there:

 

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 windows

 

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 window wall

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 entryhiking on the Losee and Casto Canyon Trails (hiking, cycling, horseback riding + ORVs in Casto Canyon )

Happy trails,

Sue
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody the ultra Lab, and Casey-pup

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2015 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil

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