Yeah You're Gonna Get Our Feet Wet
This hike is a delightful section of the upper Escalante River area which can be done as a full through backpack trip as 15 miles from the town of Escalante through to the Calf Creek quadrant or in sections as we did this little hike. This is an easy 3.2 mile round trip trail to Glen Canyon's fifth largest natural bridge which spans 130 feet high and 100 feet wide. Only Sipapu, Kachina and Owachomo in Natural Bridges National Monument and Rainbow Bridge are larger. This trail from the Escalante Trailhead traverses the Escalante River numerous times and you are also hiking in open areas of fine sand with fine views of copper colored and bold streaked sheer rock cliffs. The contrast is amazing! We went three miles back and then turned around making for a 6 mile hike.
We started our hike at the Escalante Trailhead and the trail immediately splits...the trail to the left (west) goes downstream toward Maverick Bridge and Phipps Arch...we took the right fork (east) and went upstream toward Escalante and the Escalante Natural Bridge. There is an immediate river crossing which is only shin deep but emitted a squeal from me because it is COLD. This turned out to be a big plus on the way back! After the first river crossing you are hiking along the river but in an open bench area through sand which is now sticking to your wet feet. We did a few Big Bopper stomps, hit our feet against some rocks and with our trekking poles to get some of the sand out. I wore Keen Newport H2Os and they were fine on this although a lot of sand seemed to get underneath my toes and in the front of the shoes. NO FEAR! There are 4 more river crossings before you reach the bridge so just when you thought your feet were weighing 50 more pounds from the collection of sand you can stand in the river and rinse them only to hike up the other side into MORE fine sand. At the fifth river crossing STOP and look to your left. There is the bridge! There is no sign and we almost walked passed it. You have to scramble up a bit of eroded beach to get there as it is tucked away and looks like alcove but it is WAY AWESOME. After visiting here you can continue upstream as long as you want as we did although the trail disappears after you reach a very shady beach area called Sand Bench Creek. There is also an un-named arch back in the area which I think I'll call "Sandy Arch".....if you get back there just call it waht you want! You must walk upriver IN the river to continue from here. We turned around here and started back which is where the cold river felt great because by now the sand collecting in my shoes was HOT. I stopped at every river crossing to cool my feet and rinse the sand out of them~~~~now this cool river feels GREAT on my feet.
However I will warn you that if the bugs love you wear some kind of bug repellant as this author did not and returned pretty much scavenged and sucked dry by mosquitoes, deer flies and "no see-ums". I think when I returned to our camp I was bitten at least 2-3 dozen times by something nasty and unseen. This trail also has poison ivy and you may share the trail with rattlesnakes depending on what time of year you decide to trek it. We did this on May 29 and it was plenty toasty. This is one hike I would recommend in the Escalante area. The bridge and arch are beautiful.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.