Overview: The longest, most difficult hike in Arches National Park but a good choice for solitude; includes hiking to Landscape and Double O Arches.
Start: Devils Garden Trailhead Parking Area
Distance: 7.2 miles; out and back
Difficulty: Moderate to difficult
Maps: USGS Arches National Park; Trails Illustrated Arches National Park
Finding the trailhead: Drive north into the park on the main road for 19 miles and park in the large parking area at the Devils Garden Trailhead. The trailhead is at the end of the road where it makes a small loop. Be sure to stay on the loop instead of turning into the Devils Garden Campground.
Trailhead GPS coordinates: 38.782876, -109.594996
Hike information adapted from Hiking Canyonlands and Arches National Parks (FalconGuides), which includes mile-by-mile hike descriptions and maps.
This hike starts at the Devils Garden trailhead, same as the previous hike (follow above description to Double O Arch). Just after Double O Arch, you hit a junction with a spur trail heading to the left to Dark Angel. Taking this spur trail adds nearly a mile to your trip, but it’s worth it to get a close look at this blackish sandstone spike jutting out of the desert landscape.
Also right after Double O Arch, the Primitive Loop Trail heads off to the right. The NPS has marked it “Caution, primitive trail, difficult hiking,” and the loop section of this hike is about as difficult as the section between Landscape and Partition Arches, which you have already hiked. In winter some sections can be wet or icy, making footing quite slick. If you turn back at this point, you will have seen most of the famous features of the Devils Garden Trail.
About a half mile farther up the Primitive Loop Trail, watch for a short spur trail going off to the right to Private Arch, the last arch you see on this loop. From here, instead of going from arch to arch as on the first part of this trip, the loop trail traverses a beautiful desert environment where you can study the flora and fauna — and probably have it all to yourself. Even though thousands of hikers take the first part of this loop trip, most people choose to retrace their steps on a better trail than brave the primitive loop route.