Natural Bridges Loop Hike

Page Type
Trip Report
Location:
Utah, United States, North America
Date Climbed/Hiked:
Apr 19, 2017
Activities:
Hiking
Season:
Spring
501 Hits
82.79% Score
Log in
to vote
Page By:
Natural Bridges Loop Hike
Created On: Jun 2, 2017
Last Edited On: Jun 16, 2017

Overview

Natural Bridges National Monument sits in southeastern Utah’s Cedar Mesa and preserves the following three natural bridges.


Bridge
Height
Span
Width
Thickness
Sipapu
220 ft
268 ft
31 ft
53 ft
Kachina
210 ft
204 ft
44 ft
93 ft
Owachomo
106 ft
180 ft
27 ft
9 ft



The monument’s main road takes you to viewpoints where you can look down into canyons to see the bridges. In July of 2001, I had driven the road and seen the bridges from the viewpoints. This time, I wanted to do the 10 mile loop hike that goes into the canyons and through the openings of all three bridges.

Hike Statistics

All distances are per my GPS
Place
Elevation
Distance
Sipapu Bridge Trailhead
6190 ft
zero miles
Sipapu Bridge
5750 ft
0.90 miles
Kachina Bridge
5600 ft
2.75 miles
Owachomo Bridge
5900 ft
3.75 miles
Owachomo Bridge Trailhead
6080 ft
0.40 miles
Sipapu Bridge Trailhead
6190 ft
2.20 miles
Total loop
-
10.00 miles






Trip Report

Left the vacation rental house in Bluff, UT at 6:00 a.m. The one hour drive to Natural Bridges National Monument was itself quite scenic. It was mostly cloudy.

Reached the Natural Bridges Park and drove to the Sipapu Bridge Trailhead. No-one was there. During the entire hike, I only saw one other person. An impressive white slickrock canyon was in front of me but Sipapu Bridge itself could not be seen.

Sipapu Bridge Trailhead


Got on the trail at 7:15 and followed the cairns down a pathway into the slickrock canyon. Metal stairways and wood ladders made me feel like I was speeding on a superhighway.

On the way to Sipapu Bridge
On the way to Sipapu Bridge


Followed a signed short spur trail to Sipapu Bridge Viewpoint. A bunch of birds were sitting there. They did not seem to be too afraid of me but as I got closer, they eventually flew away.

Descending to Sipapu Bridge


View of Sipapu Bridge.

Sipapu Bridge from viewpointSipapu Bridge


I then continued down the slickrock pathway down-climbing a few more ladders and hand-rails in some spots.

Desecending to Sipapu Bridge
On the way to Sipapu Bridge


Sipapu Bridge was now in full view.

Sipapu Bridge, west faceSipapu Bridge


Finally reached the bottom of the canyon at the base of Sipapu Bridge. The trail went west but I west east a very short distance under the bridge.

Under Sipapu BridgeUnder Sipapu Bridge


A little further to see the east face of Sipapu Bridge.

Sipapu Bridge, east faceSipapu Bridge


I then headed west following a beaten path downstream at the bottom of the sinuous canyon west/slowly turning south. It became sunny but I was still mostly in the shade.

Between Sipapu & Kachina Bridges
Between Sipapu & Kachina Bridges
Between Sipapu & Kachina Bridges
Between Sipapu & Kachina Bridges
Between Sipapu & Kachina Bridges
Between Sipapu & Kachina Bridges


This nameless arch appeared.

Nameless archNameless arch


I reached Kachina Bridge at 9:05. It was hiding behind a tree and appeared chunky.

Kachina Bridge, north faceKachina Bridge


Closer to the bridge.

Kachina Bridge, north faceKachina Bridge


And under it.

Under Kachina BridgeUnder Kachina Bridge


Right after Kachina Bridge, a right turn would have continued downstream in White Canyon but the path stayed straight taking me upstream into Armstrong Canyon. A look back at the bridge.

Kachina Bridge, south faceKachina Bridge


The path went up the slickrock slopes above the bottom of the canyon. In one spot, steps dug into the rock along with handrails made the ascent easy.

Kachina Bridge, south faceKachina Bridge
South of Kachina Bridge
Trail on the south side of Kachina Bridge
Kachina Bridge, south faceKachina Bridge


I then reached a signed junction. Left went up the canyon to reach the park road at Kachina Bridge Trailhead. I continued straight up Armstrong Canyon. Below me, the bottom of the canyon reached a dead end slickrock pour-off but the path that I had taken had brought me to the top of the pour-off.
View of the pour-off.

Slickrock Pour-offPour-off
Slickrock Pour-offPour-off


Slickrock Pour-offPour-off


I then continued upstream in Armstrong Canyon. The sinuous path continued south and slowly turned east. In one place, I sat down and enjoyed my lunch. A speed hiker zoomed by me. That was the only person I saw on the trail.

Between Kachina & Owachomo Bridges
Between Kachina & Owachomo Bridges
Between Kachina & Owachomo Bridges
Between Kachina & Owachomo Bridges
Between Kachina & Owachomo Bridges
Between Kachina & Owachomo Bridges
Between Kachina & Owachomo Bridges
Between Kachina & Owachomo Bridges
Between Kachina & Owachomo Bridges
Between Kachina & Owachomo Bridges


These crows did not seem to be bothered by me. They continued to kiss (or do whatever they were doing).

kissing?Kissing?


The canyon became narrow and rocky. The path took me up a shelf above the bottom of the canyon.

Between Kachina & Owachomo Bridges
Between Kachina & Owachomo Bridges
Between Kachina & Owachomo Bridges
Between Kachina & Owachomo Bridges


At 11:10 the skinny Owachomo Bridge came to view.

Owachomo BridgeOwachomo Bridge
Owachomo BridgeOwachomo Bridge


The trail went under the bridge and began to climb out of the canyon toward the park road. I could see a couple of tourists at a view point above me near the road but they soon left.
Looking back at Owachomo Bridge.

Owachomo BridgeOwachomo Bridge
Owachomo BridgeOwachomo Bridge


At 11:25, I was out of the canyon by the park road at Owachomo Bridge Trailhead. To my surprise, no one was there. Abajo Mountains were in view.

Abajo MounatinsAbajo Mountains


I then headed north following a trail 2.2 mile to reach the Sipapu Bridge Trailhead where I had started. This trail took me through beautiful juniper forests and slickrock slopes doing a whole bunch of ups and downs until I reached my car at 12:20.

Between Owachomo & Sipapu Bridge Trailheads
Between Owachomo & Sipapu Bridge Trailheads
Between Owachomo & Sipapu Bridge Trailheads
Between Owachomo & Sipapu Bridge Trailheads
Between Owachomo & Sipapu Bridge Trailheads
Between Owachomo & Sipapu Bridge Trailheads
Between Owachomo & Sipapu Bridge Trailheads
Between Owachomo & Sipapu Bridge Trailheads







Comments

Post a Comment
Viewing: 1-2 of 2
Bill Reed

Bill Reed - Jun 6, 2017 10:05 am - Voted 10/10

Amazing looking place!!

Great photos-looks like a fantastic place to hike through when it's not too hot.
Thanks for sharing it!

nader

nader - Jun 7, 2017 8:54 am - Hasn't voted

Re: Amazing looking place!!

Thank you for looking and commenting Bill,

This area, like most canyons in Utah, is simply amazing.

Viewing: 1-2 of 2


Natural Bridges Loop Hike

Trip Report
56 Images 2 Comments

Geography

View Route on Map MyTopo Map Nearby Trip Reports Interactive Map Trip Reports in Utah

Parents

Cedar Mesa, UtahTrip Reports
 
Natural Bridges National MonumentTrip Reports