Are you looking for a dog friendly arch or maybe a less crowded hike in Moab? You’ll be happy to hear there are other amazing arches outside of Arches National Park. Longbow Arch is one of those located off the beaten path which allows you to feel a sense of remoteness in the midst of chaos.
Longbow Arch isn’t the only attraction here either. Off this trail you’ll have the chance to witness ancient petroglyphs left behind from those before us, as well as dinosaur tracks imprinted millions of years before that. Many bypass this hidden gem while on their way to hike Corona Arch but I highly suggest stopping here if you have time.
In this post I’ll guide you through how to see the petroglyphs, dinosaur tracks, and make it to see Longbow Arch. Keep reading for a fun little hike in Moab!
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Longbow Arch Hiking Stats
- Hiking Distance | 2.48 miles
- Difficulty | Moderate
- Elevation Gain | 434 feet
- Total Time | 1.5 – 2 hours
- Permits/Fees | None
- Trailhead | Longbow Arch Trailhead
- Dog Friendly | Yes
Below is a map of the route to Longbow Arch.
This trail guide begins at the Longbow Arch Trailhead which is located in the same parking lot as Poison Spider Trailhead. The beginning portion of the trail includes a side excursion down Poison Spider Trail to view ancient dinosaur tracks molded into rock and historical petroglyphs!
I’ll help guide you to witness all the hidden gems along this trail, but first let’s get to the trailhead.
Getting To Longbow Arch Trailhead
The parking lot for Longbow Arch is a large dirt lot situated on top of a small hill in the Poison Spider area in Moab. You’ll first begin on the Poison Spider Trailhead then veer off to the Longbow Arch Trail and be on your way. You can put either of those in Google Maps and it will lead you right to the parking area.
Longbow Arch Trailhead is located roughly 15 minutes from downtown Moab. From Moab you’ll head North on 191 which is the main highway. It won’t be long and you’ll turn left onto Potash Road (279). This road will stun you as it follows and curves along with the Colorado River. You’ll drive past a sign and viewing point for petroglyphs high up on the canyon wall (definitely stop here!), and rock walls popular with climbers.
Eventually, on the right side of the road, you’ll veer off onto a dirt road and up to the parking lot. Park here to begin your adventure.
Best Time To Hike Longbow Arch
Moab, Utah is beautiful but it is rocky, dusty, and HOT. I highly suggest avoiding June, July, and August for the temperatures reach 100 degrees and can quickly become dangerous. If you plan on hiking Longbow Arch (or any other hikes) during your visit to Moab, try to time it for early spring (March-May) or late fall (September-October) for these are the most comfortable months for outdoor adventure.
If you don’t mind a dusting of snow or freezing temperatures then winter would be a good time for a visit. The crowds are thinner in winter but If there is a dusting of snow it could make reaching Longbow Arch a big challenge. The trail is extremely hard to follow at times and the green swatches on rock along the way help lead you in the right direction.
You can always download my GPX track and follow it so you know where you are going!
Preparation saves lives. Know where you are going ahead of time and always have a way to keep yourself on trail. One way to do this is with a GPS system or app like Gaia GPS.
You can download my Longbow Arch hike and gain access to my library of all tracked hikes. Once downloaded, you can load it into your own trusty device for ease of mind!
Hiking To Longbow Arch In Moab
Now for the fun part! Once you park your car just follow the trail near the entry to the parking lot. At first you’ll begin on Poison Spider Trail which is 1/4 mile loop trail that takes you to see the dinosaur tracks and petroglyphs. If you aren’t interested in seeing these then stick to your left and begin scrambling up to veer onto Longbow Arch Trailhead.
If you are interested in these historical sites then stay straight/somewhat to the right and head to the dinosaur tracks first. Unfortunately I cannot verbally give you great directions to this point because the trail is extremely hard to follow and I think everyone finds their own way.
The best advice I can give is to keep near the edge of the trail with the Potash Road right below you. Keep an eye out for a little sign that will help point you in the right direction.
Potash Road Dinosaur Tracks
You’ll know you’ve reached the dinosaur tracks when you hike upon a large metal plaque facing a lone rock panel displaying what looks like indentations. This rock panel actually fell from the cliffs above and broke apart, landing where it is today.
These dinosaurs were theropods which can clearly be seen in the image below. Apparently this panel holds 10 different individual animals varying in heights of 1.5 feet to 5.6 feet at the hip!
From the Potash Dinosaur Tracks the trail continues to scramble up and take a sharp left, following the curvature of the rock wall. Again, I apologize for the lack of directions, but you just have to scramble and follow your intuition and what little trail you can see at this point.
Potash Road Petroglyphs
As you follow along the rock wall on your right you’ll be able to spot groups of petroglyphs. There are many scattered about at eye level and even some above those. Some are very prominent while others are faded, but they are definitely visible and you can’t miss them.
Please Leave No Trace!
While viewing the petroglyphs it is very important not to touch them or carve into the rocks so they can be preserved for years to come. It is against the law to tamper with ancient architectural sites like this!
After respectfully viewing the petroglyphs off of Poison Spider Trail, you’ll continue on until you see another little sign that marks Longbow Arch Trail. It can be difficult to spot, but follow what path you can while utilizing your internal trail navigation to find the way. You’ll know you’re on the right track once you see a medium scramble up a slick rock section commonly referred to as ‘the waterfall’.
You’ll have to scramble up this steep section, and then at the top there will be rebar steps jutting out of the rock to assist you in climbing further.
Once at the top the trail opens up to the desert and rolling rock formations. It can be easy to lose the trail at this point because you’ll be hiking over large exposed sections of rock with no cairns or trail signs set up. Keep an eye out for green swatches (pictured below) on the rock for they’ll lead you in the right direction.
From here on out you’ll be hiking in a sandy wash. At times the sand can be a slog but overall it isn’t bad. The only time it would be an issue is if it were midday in the summer because the sand will be too hot. If you bring your dog on this hike please remember to have a pair of dog boots to protect their paws just incase.
The sandy wash will lead you into a little canyon and you’ll be able to spot Longbow Arch above you on the left. It seems so close yet there still is a steep scramble over rocks and through through overgrown vegetation to get up under the arch itself.
The view is better from the trail just before you walk under the arch because you get the full affect. But, it is worth exploring under the arch for a different perspective and higher vantage point to see the views of where you came from.
Longbow Arch isn’t the most impressive arch around Moab but it is still super unique and cool to see. Pictures just don’t do this natural arch justice- I swear it is better in person! It is high up in the side of the canyon wall and the span is pretty impressive.
Once you’ve gotten your fill of Longbow Arch, just head back down the way you came and don’t forget to look for the green swatches once you hit exposed rock again!
Gear For Your Hike
We’ve covered the fun part in this guide which is hiking to Longbow Arch. But the other part of preparedness is having the proper gear with you!
Beyond the essential water and snacks for your hike, below are some pieces of gear I highly recommend using or investing in eventually.
Due to the rocky nature of this hike you’ll want a sturdy and reliable hiking shoe, not tennis shoes. Typically I hike with my Adidas Terrex in the desert, but because it was cold I chose to wear my Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid on this one. Solid choice if you require extra ankle support!
Merino Wool Socks:
Moisture wicking socks are essential to prevent sweaty and blistery feet. They also are very warm and comfortable! I use Darn Tough Cushion Socks which are the perfect height to pair with boots and cover the heel, thus preventing blisters.
Hiking Backpack + Water Reservoir:
Any normal backpack will do, but a quality backpack like Osprey Skarab 30 with straps, support, and breathability will feel like luxury during this hike. It also holds a water reservoir which makes it easier to carry water and stay hydrated on the trail without having to stop. I love my backpack because it is the right size for all of the essentials and is very comfortable.
Base Insulating Top:
In the desert I religiously hike using either my sports bra or a synthetic crop top as my base layer. For my insulating top I love a good 1/2 zip long sleeve. I have different thicknesses of long sleeves that I wear depending on the weather. My favorite fleece for ultimate warmth is this Columbia 1/2 Zip Grid Fleece. If I want something a thinner I like to wear this Under Armor Tech Twist 1/2 Zip.
This one is extremely important because in the desert the sun is almost always beaming. You should always pack sunscreen with you and apply it before setting out to hike. Coola is an organic sunscreen perfect for the outdoors. A hat, sunglasses, and a lip balm are also important sun protection items to carry.
Packing List For Dogs
We can’t forget our furry friends! There are a few essentials I believe every dog owner should have on them when hiking with their side-kick. These gear items will ensure your dog is taken care of, but it’ll also be easier on you!
Boots + Socks:
I always have a pair of dog boots and socks with me. This is extremely important for 2 reasons- incase your dog has a paw injury or they get sore, and incase their paws need protection from hot surfaces like concrete, sand, rock, ice, etc. Pairing the socks with the boots may seem silly, but they do help prevent blisters, let the boots slip on easier, and help the boots stay on nice and snug.
Hands Free Leash:
Having a hands free leash is game changer. It makes it so much easier when hiking, scrambling rocks, and especially when going down in elevation.
Not every dog should carry a dog hiking backpack, but Monty does. It helps take weight off my pack by letting him carry his own essentials. It also give him a job to do which is essential for his breed.
Check out How to pack your dog’s backpack (and what to put inside) to learn more!
Dogs need to be able to drink plenty of water, especially on hikes like Longbow Arch. Having a collapsible dish on hand makes it easier for them to get the hydration they need. I clip Monty’s onto his backpack with a carabiner and he’s set!
Part of recreating responsibly in the outdoors in picking up after your dog. Always have poop bags on hand incase they need to go.
Once you pick up your dog’s poo, where do you store it? I use this poop carrier to hold the poop bags and any bagged poo while we’re out on the trails. It’ll help keep it separate from everything else. I just put it in Monty’s backpack and make him carry it himself so it doesn’t stink up my bag!
Final Thoughts On Longbow Arch
While it isn’t the most impressive arch around, it is another arch to cross off my list in Moab, and a great way to enjoy the outdoors. I was surprised at how desolate Longbow Arch seemed. When I hiked to it in April there was only one other pair of hikers on the trail. It almost felt eerie being in what felt like the middle of nowhere, all alone…but it also felt surreal.
It isn’t often you get to feel truly alone on a short trail like Longbow Arch Trail nowadays. Most visitors flock to Corona Arch outside of Arches National Park, and for good reason. It is the most impressive arch in Moab outside of the park, but if you’ve hiked to it before and are looking for something new, Longbow Arch is a good one.
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I’d Love To Hear From You!
Have you hiked Longbow Arch before, or are you putting this on your itinerary? Share in the comments below!