When is a pouch an arch?
This quick hike just outside of Grand Junction takes you to secluded views and a seldom-seen arch with an unusual name.
The majority of the hike takes place on the Tabeguache Trail, a 141-mile-long trail that crosses western Colorado and is open to hiking, as well as biking (in most places) and motorized use (in some places). The trail gets its name from the Tabeguache Band of Utes, who lived in the Grand Junction area until the Ute Removal Act of 1881 forced them off their ancestral land of 12,000 years. 100 years later, although virtually no Utes live in Mesa County, the trail is now named after them. Along this trail, several petroglyphs and rock shelters from the Utes and their forebears can be seen.
This hike used to start on the north side of Highway 141, but recent improvements to the motorized section of the Tabeguache have changed that. Now you have to park on the south side of Highway 141, where a broad parking area has been constructed at the start of a dirt road leading into Dominguez-Escalante NCA.
From the parking area, cross the 141 bridge and then proceed through the pedestrian gate to the kiosk describing the Tabeguache Trail. The jeep trail heads to the left and parallels the fenceline but a foot trail begins to ascend directly up the hill behind the kiosk. Following the trail up the hill brings you to some popular climbing spots as well as many Ute and ancestral Ute sites. There are rock shelters along the way as you follow the cliff face along until you intersect the Tabeguache Trail again.
After following the Tabeguache Trail out of a small draw, you are presented with a sweeping vista across the Grand Valley to the north and east towards the Grand Mesa. The hiking is easy at this point as you move between open spaces and pinyon-juniper forests, continuing to gain elevation slowly. About 1 mile from the kiosk there is a metal post just off the Tabeguache on the right. Here a faint trail winds towards the rim of the canyon. Break off from the Tabeguache and follow this to the rim for your glimpse at Wombat Arch. Wombat Arch is a rim arch and in certain lighting conditions it can be hard to see - it is easiest to spot in the morning or early afternoon when light is on the arch or shining through the opening.
If you would like a closer look at the arch, a trail leads off to the right (southwest) from the viewpoint and descends into the canyon. From there you can follow the canyon bottom to underneath the arch or climb to the top of the opposite rim to look through it. Either of these will add approximately 1/3 of a mile to the total distance.
None besides East Creek at the start of the hike. Bring your own.
Possible but not popular.
It is possible to drive this section of the Tabeguache Trail if you have a very high clearance 4x4, side-by-side, or dirt bike and have experience with off-camber trails and steep entry/exit angles.
Check out the Triplog.
Gate Policy: If a gate is closed upon arrival, leave it closed after you go through. If it is open, leave it open. Leaving a closed gate open may put cattle in danger. Closing an open gate may cut them off from water. Please be respectful, leave gates as found.