The trail to Double O Arch is one of the quintessential hikes in Arches National Park, featuring five notable arches along with views of an amazing concentration of sandstone fins, whimsical spires and sculpted knobs.
Trailhead to Double O Arch
From the trailhead, located at the north end of the parking area (see driving directions below), follow the wide, well graded dirt/gravel trail as it climbs northwest on gentle grades through sandstone fins. At 0.2 miles pass a short spur trail on the right (east) leading to Tunnel and Pine Tree Arches.
The detour to these two small arches is just over 0.5 miles round trip. To reach the arches descend along the spur trail for a short distance to a “Y” intersection. The trail to the right quickly leads to Tunnel Arch (25.5-ft. wide and 14-ft. high), a good example of a relatively young arch eroded entirely within a massive 14-ft. thick sandstone wall. The short hike to the left leads to Pine Tree Arch (46-ft wide and 48-ft. high), named for the Pinion Pine framed in its opening.
After viewing the two arches return to the main trail and continue ascending northwest on easy grades. At 0.8 miles pass a turnoff to the right (east) for the Primitive Loop.
Shortly past the junction reach the viewpoint for Landscape Arch, 0.9 miles from the trailhead. This graceful, 77-ft. high arch is one of the world’s longest stone spans, stretching 290-ft., yet is only 6-ft. thick at it center.
The arch was almost five feet thicker until September 1, 1991 when loud cracking and popping noises sent visitors sitting under the arch running. Soon small pieces of the arch began to fall and then a 60-ft. long slab of rock dropped from the underside of the arch’s thinnest section. When the dust settled 180-tons of fresh rock debris lay scattered beneath the arch. Thankfully no one was hurt. Due to safety concerns visitors are no longer permitted to hike beneath the arch.
Before leaving the viewpoint look up to see Partition Arch, located high on a sandstone wall to the right (northwest) of Landscape Arch.
Beyond Landscape Arch the trail becomes more challenging, climbing steeply up a slickrock ramp between two sandstone fins. Just beyond the top of the ramp the trail reaches the junction with the spur trail to Navajo and Partition Arches on the left (southwest), 1.25 miles from the trailhead.
Visiting both arches, which is highly recommend, will add an addition 0.8 miles to the hike. To see the arches turn left onto the spur trail. In a very short distance arrive at a second junction. Continue straight ahead for Navajo Arch or left (southeast) for Partition.
The trail to Navajo Arch soon turns left (southeast), wanders between two sandstone fins and soon reaches the arch, located at the base of the fin on your left (east) 0.3 miles from the main trail junction. The 40.5-ft. span, one of the few arches in the park with a flat, sand covered floor, offers a nice shady spot to rest on a hot day.
To see Partition Arch turn left (southeast) at the junction and follow the spur trail as it ascends between two sandstone fins for just under 0.2 miles. The photogenic arch is located along the fin to the left (east) of the trail and is a composed of a large, nearly cylindrical opening measuring 27.5-ft wide and 26-ft high and a smaller opening to the right of the larger arch, measuring 8.5-ft wide by 8-ft. high. The openings nicely frame views of the eastern section of the park.
Beyond the junction to Navajo and Partition Arches the main trail follows an ascending traverse across packed sand and slickrock with great views of the La Sal Mountains to the south and the aptly named Fin Canyon to the northeast. A section of this trail climbs along the spine of a fin with drop offs on both side. People with a fear of heights may want to avoid this part of the trail.
Reach the spur trail to the left (southwest) leading to Double O Arch, 0.8 miles past the Navajo/Partition Arch junction. (The total distance, without side trips, from the trailhead to Double O Arch is 2.1 miles.) Beautiful Double O is a stacked arch with a large upper opening, measuring 71-ft wide and 45-ft. high, sitting atop a smaller opening that is 21-ft. wide and 11-ft. high.
A visit to all the arches in this hiking description is accomplished on a very scenic 5.8 mile round trip hike. The simply out-and-back hike visiting Landscape and Double O Arches, without any detours, is 4.2 miles.
Hikers looking for a longer and more challenging day will want to visit Dark Angel and/or hike the Devils Garden Primitive Trail. The junction for both of these options is just 0.1 miles beyond the Double O Arch junction.
Dark Angel is a tall rock spire, the remnant of a once high, narrow fin. The 0.8 round trip hike to the spire climbs to a small hill with panoramic views that extend west across the Salt Valley to Klondike Bluffs, an interesting area of sandstone fins and knobs, and south to the La Sal Mountains. On the return trip enjoy good views of Double O’s upper opening.
The Devils Garden Primitive Trail follows a challenging cairned route through massive sandstone fins, takes a detour to visit Private Arch, travels along the Fin Canyon wash and then traverses open desert back to the main Devils Garden trail. For more information see the description of the Devils Garden trail.
From Moab: Drive northwest on US 191-N for 4.6 miles and turn right onto the Arches National Park Entrance Road. Travel along the road for 0.6 miles to the park entrance station where you pay park fees and obtain park brochures. (First time visitors should stop at the Visitor Center, located on the right 0.2 miles up the road from the Entrance Station to view the exhibits and obtain information about current park conditions.)
Beyond the entrance station drive 17.8 miles to the end of the main road (now called the Arches Scenic Drive) and the Devils Garden parking area. Along the way pass turnoffs for the Windows Area at 9.3 miles and Delicate Arch at 11.5 miles. The trailhead is located at the north end of the parking area near a bulletin board and bathrooms. Note: The parking area fills quickly during busy periods.
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