Just as most people think of biking Slickrock when they go to Moab, most people also think that to hike to an arch, they have to go to Arches National Park. While Arches is incredible and well worth a visit (the Visitor’s Center is outstanding and just moments off of Highway 191), one of the most spectacular family hikes in the area is the Corona Arch Trail on the opposite side of Moab.
The Corona Arch Trail isn’t long, just 3 miles roundtrip. But the payoff is huge. Formed from a massive sandstone fin, Corona Arch is 140 feet long and 105 feet high. It’s massive. Urban mythology (or is it rural mythology when you’re talking about something in Moab?) holds that small aircraft can fly under the arch. While we’ve never seen anything like that, our family has spent many restful moments in the shade of the arch, lying on our backs and contemplating its majesty. That is when we’re not scampering over the slickrock, climbing the trail ladders and hoping to see a train rush by at the trailhead.
The trail to Corona Arch is not difficult but it’s a great “adventure” trail for kids. After you park, climb up an embankment and cross the railroad tracks. Follow a jeep road into a small wash. At this point, another arch, Pinto Arch is visible. Cairns mark the well-used trail, so there’s no danger of a wrong turn. Soon the trail goes left, sweeping onto a wide expanse of sandstone. Handrails and ladders built into the slickrock get you up steep sections and add to the adventure.
While Corona Arch deservedly dominates the landscape, just a few hundred yards before Corona is a different type of arch, Bowtie. Sometimes known as Paul Bunyan’s potty (but not to be confused with his other potty in Canyonlands National Park), Bowtie Arch was formed when a pothole in the upper cliff eroded into a cave below.
When You Go….
The trailhead for the Corona Arch trailhead is found off of Highway 191 on Utah 279, along the Colorado River. The trailhead is well marked and is 10 miles from Highway 191 on the right. Petroglyphs and dinosaur tracks are in the area, but are not well marked. Keep your eyes open, especially between mile 5 and 6 on Utah 279.
Portions of this post originally published at Women’s Adventure as an Adventure Moms column.
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