It’s not exactly a secret, yet somehow it felt like it was. Finding the Corona Arch Trail was serendipitous. After a practically washed-out trip to Dead Horse State Park for sunrise, we tried getting into the Arches National Park. Unfortunately, the park was already at capacity, an annoyingly common issue past 9 am.
Not wanting to waste the day, we quickly hopped on Google Maps to see what else was around us.
Dinosaur tracks?? Well, that sounds interesting, we thought, as we headed towards the nearby Poison Spider Trail. And it really was. So interesting in fact that we decided to find out what else was in the area.
That’s how we came across the Corona Arch, one of the prettiest arches in Moab, and its nearby companion, Bowtie Arch. There’s even a third arch, Pinto Arch, that’s easily accessible via a splinter trail. In this post, we’ll show you what to expect from our favorite off the beaten path hike in Moab.
Finding Corona Arch Trail
A little north of Moab on US-191, just before the Arches National Park, we turned onto UT-279. From there, we followed the canyon road alongside the Colorado River for about ten miles.
Managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), both Corona Arch Trail and the Poison Spider Trail were free to visit.
Corona Arch Trail Basic Info
Length: 2.5 miles, out and back. Add 1.2 miles round trip if you’re going to Pinto Arch too.
Time: About 2 hours. Add 1-2 hours for Pinto Arch.
Elevation Gain: Approximately 400 ft.
- There’s very little shade, wear a sun hat, sunscreen, and bring plenty of water.
- Dogs are allowed on leashes.
- The sign at the start of the trail seems to cause confusion as it references a 4-hour hike time. This is only if you also do the Pinto Arch Trail.
Navigating the Corona Arch Trail
The trail to Corona Arch started with a short but steep elevation gain until we reached the railroad tracks. Though it was tempting to follow the train line into the narrow high-walled corridor, it’s still an active line that the nearby potash factory regularly uses.
Not long after the railroad tracks, the hike leveled out with gorgeous views over the red-sandstone landscape.
The trail was easy to follow. Green paint swatches marked the path most of the way, with the occasional cairn helping out.
About a half-mile up on the trail we saw the two left turn-offs for Pinto Arch. It’s an out-and-back trail that adds about 1-2 hours to the hike. As it was already getting late in the day, we skipped the detour.
Most Challenging Section of the Corona Arch Trail
Just before reaching the final stretch to Bowtie and Corona Arches, we ran into a few obstacles.
The first was a section of slickrock with a cable support. Ironically, we didn’t actually need the support, except in one section where the post was missing, which made the cable impossible to use.
Just past the slickrock, hundreds of cairns cluttered the sides of the path. Luckily, at this point the path was obvious, so it just made a fun photo stop.
From here, we could see Corona Arch in the distance and a few folks used this as their turn-around spot: however, it’s worth continuing the hike if you’re able.
The next obstacle was a set of stone carved steps with a cable railing. For those of us with shorter legs (i.e., me), this was doable but definitely the most challenging part of the hike, especially on the way back down.
Just after the stone steps was the final obstacle, a short metal ladder.
Finally, Time to Enjoy Corona Arch
Once through the world’s shortest obstacle course, it was a brief walk around the ledge to reach the arches.
If you’re hiking with kids or dogs, this is especially where you want to pay close attention. Though there’s plenty of space to stay safe, there are also some terrifying drop-offs.
Under normal circumstances, Bowtie Arch would be worth the hike all on its own. Problem is, Corona Arch is so stunning, it’s easy to be drawn right past Bowtie Arch.
From a distance we couldn’t tell the scale of the arch. As we got closer to Corona Arch, its enormity became apparent. We felt like ants exploring its base.
The atmosphere was so different from the nearby national parks. It was an easy place to whittle away time. There were people sketching, reading books, and just enjoying the quiet and the view.
As our visit was in October, the weather was mild with a cool breeze. However, with no shade, you might not find it as relaxing in summer.
Where to Stay in Moab
Moab is the main town in these parts, with most of its accommodation along the main road, US-191. Expect hotels in Moab to cost more than you’d think they should, especially in peak season.
Books on Moab
With an infinite number of places to explore around Moab, if you’re spending more than a couple of nights a guide sure comes in handy.
- Hiking Canyonlands and Arches National Parks – A guide to more than 60 great hikes.
- Best Easy Day Hikes in Moab – Small enough to carry with you but packed with local hikes you might not find otherwise.
- Collier’s Guide to Photographing Arches National Park – A must for those who want to come away with those perfect photographs.
- A Complete Guide to the Grand Circle National Parks – Visiting more than just Moab? This handy guide provides helpful information on several key parks within the Grand Circle.