Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Arches National Park: Park Ave

Distance: 2 miles round trip
Elevation: 4,680 ft - 5,000 ft
Elevation Gain: 320 ft
Date Hiked: 25 April 2012
Bathroom at Trailhead: No
Water at Trailhead: No
Dogs: Not allowed

The Park Ave Trail from the Park Ave parking lot.  The thin like rock formations are called fins.  You will see a lot more of them as this sequence continues.
Park Avenue is one of the loveliest hikes in the Arches National Park.  The towering fins and megalithic rocks that line the sides of the trail surround the hiker with their phenomenal majesty.  I would learn later that fins are the key to arch development,  but on this, my first hike in the park, they seemed so very strange compared to the canyons and volcanic remnants I am used to seeing.

The trail from Courthouse Towers begins on the other side of the road and heads down a path bordered by rocks.
The passage of many touristas has removed the dust from the route to reveal the smooth stone beneath.
The trail is named Park Avenue because the towering walls reminded early explorers of the skyscrapers in New York City.  Instead of high-end stores, bustling people, and continuous cacophony, I was greeted by shrubbery in bloom and a pleasantly cool breeze blowing down the canyon.  I saw only a couple of hikers. 

On the sides of the route you can see the many layers of sandstone the water cut through.
The route follows the barren stream bed and is easy to follow.
You can hike this trail as a shuttle for a one mile journey or do it as an out and back for a two mile trip.  I recommend the latter because the views are totally different each way.  If you start at the first trailhead as you enter the park, you'll hike down first and up last.  If you start at the Courthouse Towers viewpoint you will do the opposite.  This was the route I chose so that I was hiking down hill on the last pitch.

Our destination is the slot between the rocks straight ahead
Stone steps lead up to the parking lot.  This section is the steepest.
What I like best about this hike was that the route followed an old stream bed and the evidence of flowing water was everywhere.  The soft rock had been carved into curvaceous patterns in the center while the many layers of sediment along the edges were jagged and exposed.  The overall affect was poignant.  Water was everywhere and nowhere.

Standing at the viewpoint looking at the fins
At a distance, the skeleton of a Utah Juniper dwarfs the megalithic rocks behind it.
I hiked this trail around 6pm in the evening after a long drive from Denver.  It is was short and close to the entrance and was a great way to get oriented to the park as well as stretch my travel weary legs.

Approaching the trailhead, the hiker gets a glimpse of the rock formations deeper into the park.
The rock formation on the left is called the 3 Gossips.  The rocks in the foreground are the side of cars.

1 comment:

Linda W. said...

Wow, very cool! The national parks in southern Utah are on my "bucket list" to visit.