Longbow Arch

Rating: 
Round Trip Distance: 2.8 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation: 3966 - 4407 feet
Cellphone: 0 bars
Time: 2 hrs.
Trailhead: Poison Spider
Fee: none
Attractions: Natural arch, petroglyphs




Longbow Arch is located in the Poison Spider area near Moab, Utah. The trail begins at the Poison Spider trailhead, near the Colorado River, along Highway 279, a.k.a the Potash Road, just west of Moab, Utah. As the short trail starts out it makes a fun climb up a section of slickrock where a short run of rebar steps cemented into the sandstone provide easy access through a gap in the cliff to the area above. From there the hike continues across slickrock domes and up sandy washes until it reaches Longbow Arch.


The Poison Spider trailhead is about 10 miles from the center of Moab. To get there drive north out of Moab towards Arches National Park. Just before reaching Arches turn west onto Highway 279, the Potash Road. Continue along the scenic roadway as it travels between the towering sandstone cliffs and the Colorado River for about 6 miles. The trailhead will be on the righthand side of the road.


From the parking area follow the trail near the restroom. As it begins climbing up the slickrock and boulder strewn hillside it passes a trail sign where the route to some nearby dinosaur tracks branches off on the right. The trail sign has a handy map that shows how the trails to the dinosaur tracks, Longbow Arch, and the petroglyphs along the base of the cliff are all laid out.


The trail continues scrambling up the hill until it reaches the base of the sandstone cliffs. At this point there is another trail marker where the Petroglyph trail branches off on the right.


The Longbow Arch trail mounts a section of slickrock that leads it up through a narrow gap in the cliffs.


At the head of the gap the slickrock rises 6 or 7 feet at a steep enough angle to make footing a bit harder to obtain. To make things easier they have cemented rebar hand and foot holds into the rock. Since the last time that we were here they have added a lower rung to make it even easier to get started. Even though they have provided a half dozen or more handholds grown ups will probably only need to take advantage of a couple of them to get the job done while youngsters might use them all.


After getting up the slickrock the going gets much easier. If you look close at the pictures you might notice that the route is marked by little stripes of green paint in enough places to guide you along.


Near the 0.7 mile point the Long Bow Arch trail travels across a bench that is right above the Poison Spider Road. There is a short connecting route that runs from the road to the trail. Hikers that want to miss out on all of the fun of coming up the route that we have been describing can hike up the road to this point to get to the trail.


As the trail bends away from the Poison Spider Road it climbs over a few more domes and continues across patches of slickrock mingled with stretches of wind blown sand.


The trail picks up a sandy wash to follow and as it bends around to the east and then to the south Longbow Arch comes into view.


The final leg of the trail works its way up the drainage below the arch scrambling up several small spillovers. Without too much trouble it leads right up to beneath the arch where you can relax and take in the views. Eyeballing some of the separations in the rock makes you wonder just how much longer the arch will stay aloft.


There are plenty of great views all along the trail that would make it worth the effort even if it didn't have an arch at the end.


On the way back to the trailhead you might consider checking out the petroglyphs and dinosaur tracks if you haven't done so lately. They don't add that much more distance to the hikes.


If you are worried about encountering a poisonous spider while in the area it isn't anything to be too concerned about. The name dates back to 1896 when a young girl died from what was said to be a spider bite. While in the area there are other nearby arches and scenic trails to explore. Sites along the Potash Road include the Portal Overlook trail, Potash Road Rock Art Site, Corona Arch and Jeep/Gold Bar Arch. If you would like to see Longbow Arch for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.