Druid Arch Trail

Page Type
Route
Location:
Utah, United States, North America
Route Type:
Hiking
Season:
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Time Required:
Most of a day
Difficulty:
Hike

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Druid Arch Trail
Created On: Oct 4, 2014
Last Edited On: Oct 26, 2017

Overview

Druid Arch is undoubtedly the most famous landmark in the Needles district of Canyonlands National Park. This majestic arch sits in a slickrock amphitheater at the southern end of Elephant Canyon. The usual starting place for the hike to Druid Arch is Elephant Hill (Soda Spring) Trailhead. The 5.4 mile (one way) trail takes you up slickrock country and then into Elephant Canyon providing you with continuous views of needles and other interesting sandstone formations. As you keep going, the canyon becomes narrower. Half a mile before its end, the trail leaves the canyon going up the slopes of the amphitheater to a spot where Druid Arch will be in full view. You can also look back to get great views of the very tight and impressive canyon you hiked in.

Getting There

From The Needles entrance station drive 3 miles and turn left onto a road signed for Squaw Flat/Elephant Hill. You will then turn right and then another right onto a well graded dirt road that is usually passable for two wheel drive. Continue 3 miles on the dirt road to Elephant Hill (Soda Spring) Trailhead.

Route Description

Druid Arch Trail MapMap


TH Elevation: 5150 ft
High Point Before Elephant Canyon: 5400 ft
Into Elephant Canyon: 5200 ft
Elevation at the end of the trail: 5720 ft
Roundtrip Distance: 10.8 miles


TH to Jct with Squaw Flat Trail, 1.5 miles
The trail immediately begins to go up a slope. In a pot, it goes up a series of man-made steps between two rocks.

Near Elephant Hill Trailhead


You will then find yourself in a slickrock environment following cairns. La Sal Mountains will be visible to the northeast.

La Sal MountainLa Sal Mountains


North Six-shooter Peak can be seen to the east.

North Six-Shooter PeakNorth Six-Shooter Peak at sunrise


A branch of Big Spring Canyon will also be visible to the east.

Branch of Big Spring CanyonBranch of Big Spring Canyon


Needles will come to view.

Needles

On Druid Arch Trail

On Druid Arch Trail

On Druid Arch Trail

On Druid Arch Trail


You will then reach a signed junction. Left will go to Squaw Flat. Continue right.

Through the narrows and down into Elephant Canyon, 0.6 miles

Follow the trail up slickrock and get into these narrows:

The Narrows

The NarrowsMy hiking pole, 36" long


The narrows gradually open up.

Exiting the NarrowsThe narrows opening up


And you will go down to the bottom of Elephant Canyon.

Elephant CanyonElephant Canyon


You will then reach another signed junction where right goes to Chesler Park. Turn left.

Elephant canyon, 0.8 miles

Follow the trail near or at the bottom of Elephant Canyon.

Needles

Needles


You will reach a signed junction where left goes to Big Spring Canyon. Continue right.

More Elephant Canyon, 2.5 miles

Continue on the trail at or near the bottom of Elephant Canyon. After 0.5 miles, you will reach another signed junction where right goes to Chesler Park. Continue straight.

Elephant Canyon

Elephant Canyon

Elephant Canyon

Elephant Canyon

Elephant Canyon

Needles

Elephant Canyon


Roughly half a mile before the end, you will reach a place where the trail leaves the bottom of the canyon. Pay attention to the cairns to make sure you do not miss this. You will have to do some degree of hand and foot climbing to get out of the canyon up this slope:

Where the trail leaves the canyonTrail leaving the canyon up this slope


The trail then traverses the eastern wall of the canyon.

Traversing the wall of Canyon

Trail traversing the wall of the canyon


Looking down the bottom of the canyon.

Looking down the bottom of Elephant Canyon


You will then turn left into a slickrock side canyon. In a spot, you will have to go up a steel ladder bolted into the rock.

Slickrock Side CanyonSlickrock side canyon


Druid Arch will appear as a needle. From this angle, its opening will not be visible.

Druid ArchOpening of Druid Arch not seen from this spot


You will then get out of the side canyon going up a boulder/talus covered slope to get into a slickrock amphitheater.

Looking up the boulder/scree slopeLooking up the boulder/scree slope


Looking down at the slickrock canyon.

The canyon you climbed out ofFrom Druid Arch Viewpoint


Druid Arch will now be in full view.

Druid ArchDruid Arch


Other views from the end of the trail:

From Druid Arch Viewpoint

From Druid Arch Viewpoint

From Druid Arch Viewpoint


One of the most impressive views is that of the canyon you climbed out of appearing as a tight groove.

From Druid Arch ViewpointCanyon seen as a tight groove


Essential Gear

Hiking equipment.






Druid Arch Trail

Route
37 Images 5 Climber's Log Entries 2 Comments 0 Additions & Corrections

Geography

MyTopo Map Nearby Routes Interactive Map Routes in Utah

Parents

The NeedlesRoutes
 
Elephant CanyonRoutes