We had plans to leave very early in the morning and hike Rattlesnake Canyon on our way to spending almost a week in Moab. We left at 7AM from Downieville and ate lunch at the McInnis Canyons trailhead. We were definitely on schedule, and the weather was fantastic.
We took the Upper Road, and the views from the majority of the trail were very nice. Eventually, you could see the town of Fruita, the Colorado River, the trains moving below us, and even cars on I-70. We couldn't ask for a better day.
We figured we didn't have time to also hike Mee Canyon, but we stopped at the kiosk to get more information. Pictures of the Mee Alcove looked very interesting. We'll have to come back another day when we can use the Upper Road.
It was easy going to get to the parking area for Rattlesnake Canyon. When we got there, some other people were coming back up. They said that they really enjoyed the hike, and we were anxious to get started.
The whole way to the crossroads was wide enough for vehicles, though it would have made the trail much harder if it was still open to 4x4 rigs. It was easy to hike, though.
We really couldn't decide which way to go first. The hike to the top of Cedar Tree Arch was much shorter, so we did that one first. We hoped to go down through the arch.
It was much steeper than we thought it was going to be! Mike worked his way down, almost to the bottom. Monica was a passenger this time, and she decided that the slide down the slickrock was too adventurous for her. That meant that Mike had to work his way back up. By the time he got to the crossroads he was exhausted, and he decided to go back and wait for us at the Jeeps. The rest of us went on and did the other section of the hike.
The trail between the crossroads and the intersection with Pollock Bench is by far the hardest. It's very steep, and it's almost like you're following run-off down the sandy hill. It's tough on the way down, but much tougher on the way up.
The rest of the hike after the Pollock Bench intersection is easy. The first side of the butte is fairly uneventful, with more good views of the valley. Then you come around to the other side and the sights are incredible.
The first arch is right on the other side. It's an unnamed arch right next to Hole-in-the-Bridge Arch. Centennial Arch is our new favorite, also known as Akiti Arch or East Rim Arch. It is very long and very thin, and it looks like it could come down at any minute.
Overhanging Arch and Eye Arch are pretty similar, with a small hole in a wide, flat, horizontal surface. Trap Arch was also pretty cool.
When we got to the bottom of Cedar Tree Arch it definitely looked easier to climb up than it did to climb down. Still, it was getting late and we didn't want to spend a lot of time there only to find out we couldn't climb up it. We decided to go all the way back around.
When we got back, it really looked like rain. There is a portion of the 4x4 trail that is clay, and if it gets wet it's impossible to drive on (or even walk on). We hurried, and made it back out to the trailhead before the rain and before the light was completely gone.
We worked our way out of the Colorado National Monument and were back out to I-70 in full darkness. We headed off to Moab, starting our trip off in the best way possible. We can't wait to go back and check out more of McInnis Canyons.