6.2 miles (plus 6.7 miles by car or bicycle)
3 1/2 hours
120 ft. loss
Courthouse Wash Trailhead (start):
Highway 191: 4,000 ft.
No trail, but very easy walking along
bottom of a sandy wash. Some wading is
necessary, so wear wettable shoes.
Spring, summer, fall, winter. There is
occasionally snow in the canyon during
winter. For more information call the
Visitor Center, Arches National Park,
at (801) 259-8161.
Arches National Park, near Moab
Wash is a short, but very pretty canyon
near the entrance to Arches National Park.
You wont see any arches in Courthouse
but it is, nevertheless, a pleasant half-day
walk. The canyon almost always has at
least some water in it; consequently it
is filled with cottonwoods and willows.
The easiest place to walk is usually in
the stream bed, so you should wear sneakers
or other shoes suitable for wading. There
are deer and raccoon tracks in the canyon,
but the animal you are sure to see a lot
of is frogs.
dropping into lower Courthouse Wash to
begin your hike, pause for a while to
study the red sandstone towers that rise
from the surrounding valley. These photogenic
formations are all part of the Entrada
Sandstone geologic formation that dominates
most of Arches National Park. The Courthouse
Towers, after which Courthouse Wash was
named, are located about a mile south
of the trailhead.
the Entrada Sandstone Formation lies the
Navajo Sandstone, a thick layer of light-colored
rock that is very prominent in the canyons
of southern Utah. Navajo Sandstone is
generally much whiter than the reddish
Entrada Sandstone, and it tends to erode
into deep narrow canyons and smooth-walled
cliffs with little fracturing. Entrada
Sandstone, on the other hand, has an interesting
tendency to erode into unlikely looking
pillars and arches of the kind that have
made Arches National Park famous. This
hike begins very close to the boundary
that separates the Entrada Sandstone from
the older Navajo Sandstone. At first the
canyon is very shallow, but as you proceed
downstream the gorge cuts deeper into
the Navajo Sandstone and the canyon walls
soon become much higher.
be following the bottom of Courthouse
Wash all the way to the point where Highway
191 crosses it, 0.2 mile before it reaches
the Colorado River. The canyon starts
out in a general easterly direction, then
gradually swings around to the south.
Four smaller side canyons join the wash
before it reaches the Colorado, all coming
in from the northeast, but in each case
it is obvious which canyon is the main
one. The smaller canyons all lead to an
area in the park known as the Petrified
course, is a by-product of the erosion
that carved Courthouse Wash, and the floor
of the canyon is filled with a thick layer
of it. Walking on the dry, loose sand
is tiring, but there is usually a lot
of water in the streambed and it is easier
to walk in or along the edge of water.
Many people take their shoes off and walk
barefoot most of the way.
If you want
a longer walk you can begin your hike
farther north on Highway 191 at the top
of upper Courthouse Wash. The upper part
of the wash begins on the east side of
Highway 191, 5.7 miles north of the park
entrance or about 0.2 mile south of the
road leading to Dead Horse Point. This
route first passes through a narrow canyon
in the Entrada Sandstone, and then, after
about 2.5 miles, emerges into a wide valley
at the bottom of the Entrada Sandstone
Formation. There is usually water in the
streambed after the first 2.3 miles. Finally,
after 7.8 miles, the wash reaches the
national park road, where the hike through
lower Courthouse Wash begins.
provided by David
Day of utahtrails.com. Click here
to order his book Utah's
Favorite Hiking Trails.