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Hiking Happenings January 2005

Best Easy Day Hikes - Canyonlands & Arches
review by Carrie Switzer


It’s easy to find excuses for not getting out. One of them is inexperience with the myriad trail possibilities in and around Moab, not to mention the obviously treasured Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. The other is time constraints or limited physical endurance. With these considerations, it’s especially important to know where to go and how strenuous a hike one may embark.

Best Easy Day Hikes is a perfect companion book under these circumstances and a great book for locals and visitors. Small and slim, it outlines 21 hikes in the two national parks surrounding Moab, with simple detail, including directions to the trails, the length and difficulty of each, maps, hints on special features and even detours to see more, and short cuts for quick trips.

Written by Bill Schneider, "Best Easy Day Hikes" is an abridged version of “Exploring Canyonlands and Arches National Parks” by the same author. It includes overview maps and a discussion of what a day hike – and especially what an “easy” day hike is. It also has a description of the types of hikes, such as the Loop (starts and finishes at the trailhead); the Shuttle (a “point-to-point trip that requires two vehicles); and
Out-and-back (self explanatory.)

The book – which can easily fit in a large pocket or small hip pack – also lists trails by difficulty, from “easiest” to “hardest.” A responsible guidebook published by Falcon Press, it admonishes all hikers to abide by three Falconguide principals:

1. Leave with everything you brought with you.
2. Leave no sign of your visit.
3. Leave the landscape as you found it.

The Arches National Park day hikes include: Park Avenue, Delicate Arch, Devils Garden and Tower Arch.

Canyonlands trails include: Island in the Sky: Neck Spring, Mesa Arch, Aztec Butte, Whale Rock, Upheaval Dome Overlook, Murphy Point, White Rim Overlook and Grand View.

Another nine trails are listed from the Needles, Maze and Horseshoe Districts of Canyonlands National Park.

The hike I considered taking and writing about for December Devils Garden, and “Out-and-back” trail or a ‘Loop” trail, with total distances ranging from 2 miles to 7.2 miles. Its attraction is the fact that it can be a 1 to 4-hour hike, with detours to as many as nine arches. There is a minimal elevation gain and spur trails to keep things interesting. If a hiker takes the primitive loop and all the spur trails, it can be the longest hike in Arches National Park. Or the whole loop can be traversed in 2 hours. The primitive loop is not considered an easy hike.

Best Easy Day Hikes was published in cooperation with the National Park Service, Trails Illustrated Maps, and the Canyonlands Natural History Association. It is available at the Moab Information Center and other outlets locally, and worth having as a reference and loaner to visiting friends and relatives.

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