3 Fantastic Moderate Moab Hikes
Mo-ahhh-b. It’s such a delicious place to hike, bike, relax and get away for a great walking vacation. With so many choices on where to hike in Moab, you can get a bit overwhelmed and perhaps stuck in the crowds. As a day-hiker, I find I like to stay in Moab and then venture out to Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Bears Ears National Monument, and Dead Horse State Park. In the evening after some great hiking, I hit up the locally-owned restaurants in Moab for some great vegetarian chow. In order to help you sort out the choices and for you to enjoy a short walking vacation in Moab, here are three fantastic, moderate hikes in Moab.
These three moderate hikes in Moab range from 3-5 miles with the option to extend the 5-miler to 7 miles. Due to the altitude, be sure to listen to your body. Pack more water than you think you’ll drink, then double that. Make sure you’ve got great snacks with you (I love Trader Joe’s Soft and Juice Mandarins), wear sunscreen, and ensure your feet are comfy in good hiking shoes (my boot recommendation).
Canyonlands Slickrock Trail
Listed at 2.4 miles, but I clocked over 3 miles, this fantastic loop trail on the edge of the canyon is a great introduction into red rocks hiking. You’ll be high on the ridge the entire walk, grabbing super views of the Six-shooter Peak, Elaterite Butte, Cathedral Butte, the La Sal Mountains, Ekker Butte, and, of course, the Needles. The trail itself is mostly rock. If you’re lucky enough to be there after a rain, you’ll catch puddles full of short-lived water life. Otherwise, follow the cairns that mark the trail. Take your time at the 4 overlooks, and take a picnic with you for overlook 2.
This hike is great first hike to do in the Moab area. You’ll get some altitude adjustment, and it sets up the views and your interest for where you’ll want to hike next. On the way to the trailhead, be sure to stop at the wonderful Newspaper Rock in Bears Ears National Monument.
Getting to the trailhead: From the Needles entrance station at Canyonlands, drive 6.4 miles and park on the right (north) side of the road at the Slickrock Foot Trail Parking Area, just before the end of the road.
Trailhead Coordinates: 38.177063, -109.814582
The Corona and Bowtie Arches
Recently designated as a National Recreation Trail, this moderately trafficked Corona Arch Trail starts across from the Colorado River and is easily found and accessed. Don’t let the full parking lot keep you from this fantastic, out-n-back, 3-mile round-trip trail. Every time I go to Moab, I do this trail. It’s a fantastic outing for a sunset hike or if you’re on your way to Dead Horse State Park.
The trail starts with a quick up and then meanders through an arroyo on the way to a ridge. You’ll climb a bit until you get to a canyon bowl where you’ll walk slightly slanted along rock. Your first obstacle is a metal rope guide along the edge of a slant, then you’ll come across a short 5-rung, metal ladder than elevates you to the next ridge. There, you’ll click a dozen rock steps higher onto the canyon slant. Once you’re high on the ridge, you’ll walk around the bowl and see both the Corona Arch and the Bowtie Arch.
As you approach Bowtie, get your pictures of Corona. But don’t stop under the arch. Continue around its backside to peer down into Bootlegger Canyon, then turn around and enjoy the arch. If you time your visit right, you can catch the sunset to the west through the arch. It’s a National Geo moment!
Although this hike sounds difficult with the ladders, ridges, and canyons, it’s a super fun hike for all ages. Just take it slow if you’ve got some height issues, and if you need a little assistance getting up and down the ladders, people will help you. You’ll find dogs on this hike as well. Personally, I wouldn’t bring my dog on this hike–too much to distract and harm with–but they are allowed, so please be sure to bring your poop bags if you do bring your pup.
Getting to the trailhead: From Moab, take US-191 North for 4 miles. Turn left onto UT-279 South. Follow UT-279 for 10 miles. Parking and the trailhead are located on the north-side (right-side) of the highway.
Trailhead coordinates: 38.574296 / -109.632611
Double O Arch at Devil’s Garden
Get past the crowds and keep driving through Arches National Park all the way to the north end of the park. There you’ll find a challenging trail where you can do an out-n-back to the Double O Arch at Devil’s Garden for about 5 miles, or do the challenging primitive loop for 7 miles. This is not a trail to do on the weekends. Many people who shouldn’t do this trail are out on the weekends attempting things they aren’t fit for or geared up properly. Don’t be that person. Instead, wear boots, proper outerwear, bring tons of water, and prepare for more time than you would normally take for 5+ miles.
Once you get past the first two miles of this trail, you’ll lose most of the people at Landscape Arch, the longest arch in Moab. Right past Landscape Arch, you’ll have a challenging climb up the fin along narrow ridges. Many people decide to turn back here. If you continue, take your time. Downhill hikers should yield to uphill, so make your way gingerly up the fin for about 200 feet.
Along the way to Double O, you’ll pass Navajo, Partition and Black Arch. You’ll also have plenty of fins to climb and overlooks to enjoy. Be sure to bring a nice picnic (pick something up at the Moab Co-op) and make an entire day of it. When I hiked this trail in October, I thought I’d be done in 3 hours. I had barely made it to Double O by that time and had to double back on the main trail rather than continue the longer way on the Primitive Loop because I was running out of daylight. Friends tried to complete Primitive, but had to turn around because the last mile’s terrain was too slippery and difficult for their advanced skill set. So check with the ranger’s office before doing Primitive for accurate trail conditions.
Getting to the trailhead: Drive north into the park on the main road for 19 miles and park in the large parking area at the Devils Garden Trailhead. The trailhead is at the end of the road where it makes a small loop. Be sure to stay on the loop instead of turning into the Devils Garden Campground.
Trailhead GPS coordinates: 38.782876, -109.594996
Suggested 3-Day Moab Walking Vacation
So, if you’re headed to Moab for the 3 days for a short walking vacation, I’d suggest the following agenda.
- On the first day, drive down to Canyonlands and do Slickrock. Enjoy the visitor centers there and be sure to stop in at Bears Ears. Let the Trump administration know you enjoyed the park so they stop taking parts of it away.
- The next day, spend the day in Arches and do the Double O Arch. If you’ve got energy left afterward, hit up Delicate Arch.
- On your last day, catch Corona Arch in the morning for a quick 2-hour jaunt, and then hit the road.
Be sure to hit up these great places to eat in Moab below to sustain you on your hikes!
Grub to Go
Places to eat in Moab: Without many chains (yeah!), Moab’s locals offer up great grub for hungry hikers. Everyone must stop at Pasta Jay’s. As a vegetarian, I love the Primavera Josephina. There’s a large enough serving to take your leftovers on the next day’s hike. An afternoon Jolly Green smoothie from Peace Tree Cafe hits the spot. In the morning, jump into Love Muffin Cafe and grab their quinoa bowl–a great protein-packed way to start a healthy day of hikes. Finally, a co-op lover myself, I will always drop in on Moonflower Co-op and support it. I picked up some smoked salmon, a rare treat for me, and a loaf of sourdough for a sunset snack at Dead Horse State Park.
What’s your favorite way to enjoy Moab? Post pics and leave me a comment!
~See you on the trail,