Round Trip Distance: 4 miles
Elevation: 3942 - 4505 feet
Cellphone: 0 bars
Time: 2 hrs. 30 mins.
Trailhead: Gold Bar
Attractions: Scenic rocks
The Middle Earth Waterfall trail is located between the Gold Bar Arch and Corona Arch trails west of Moab, Utah. The trail follows a side drainage of Gold Bar Canyon for about 2 miles where it ends up below a high spillover. Most of the time there won't be any water in the canyon so there won't actually be a waterfall to see. Nevertheless Middle Earth Waterfall is a nice short hike where one can get away from the some of the crowds on other trails near Moab.
The trailhead is unmarked at present but it is still easy to find. Travel north out of Moab and turn left onto the Potash Road, Utah Highway 279. The turnoff comes after crossing the river and before reaching the entrance to Arches National Park. Follow the Potash Road for about 9.5 miles to mile marker 5 which is at a big bend in the Colorado River just past the Corona Arch trailhead and the Gold Bar Recreation Area. A large gravel area along the road provides plenty of room to park.
From the parking area head toward the culvert that runs under the railroad tracks. Rather than going through the culvert like you would to get to Gold Bar/Jeep Arch climb the trail that angles up the embankment.
Once at the top cut across the railroad tracks and go through the pass-thru in the fence.
After going through the fence follow the slickrock on the left and travel around the point above Gold Bar Canyon.
On the other side of the slickrock a well worn trail will appear that continues around the hillside.
At times the best route gets a little sketchy and several options appear but they are all good. The goal is to continue around the bench above the canyon below. Eventually the canyon splits and the trail continues above the right fork until if finally enters the wash which becomes the trail from that point on.
There are several spots as the trail continues up the wash that require scrambling around boulders and either up or around small spillovers. Eventually the wash reaches the normally dry waterfall and the trail comes to an end. A light rain had started when we reached this point and we ended up with a smudge on the camera lens that went unnoticed. During a heavy rain a person is pretty much guaranteed to see a waterfall but that would be the worst possible time to be standing in the wash below it.
On the way back keep your eyes out for an unnamed arch on the east side of the trail a quarter mile or so before it gets back to the slickrock.
The Gold Bar Petroglyph site is also worth checking out. The petroglyphs are on the large boulders near the point where the trail passes through the fence.
The Middle Earth Waterfall is the type of trail that a local is more likely to hike than a tourist. When hiking the Gold Bar/Jeep Arch trail there are places where you can look over and see the Middle Earth Waterfall trail. It also shows up on Google Maps and that is why we decided to go ahead and post it. The waterless waterfall isn't all that appealing by itself but the arch and petroglyphs coupled with the natural beauty of the canyons geology make it worthwhile to check out. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.