A hike to Morning Glory Arch
One of the most unexpectedly pleasurable hikes in “canyonlandia” has to be the trail that winds up Negro Bill Canyon to Morning Glory Arch.
This spectacularly varied perambulation commences from the Negro Bill trailhead off Hwy. 128 and runs for 2 1/4 miles, turning up a side canyon at 1.5 miles to end at the aforementioned arch, one of the longest stone spans in the area (and one of the least well-known, given its remove from the National Park system; it resides on BLM land, part of a designated wilderness study area).
The trail follows along the banks of a perennial stream, crossing it via stepping stones and fallen timber on numerous occasions, which will test the balance and coordination of those wishing to keep their boots (mostly) dry.
As a result of the stream, one encounters a surprising array of foliage, dominated by Gambel’s Oak and Water Birch. A good deal of the route finds one wandering idyllically through shaded areas, making for a delightful break from the harsh desert sunlight. This would be one of the few area hikes to remain moderately comfortable during the days of mid-summer heat.
The canyon was named for William Granstaff, an early settler who ran cattle within the easily-fenced confines of the sandstone defile. (“Negro Bill Canyon” is a mildly gentrified version of the setting’s original moniker.)
Arriving at the arch, one is treated to a magnificent sight: a barely detached sandstone span which channels sunlight around and about, resulting in a ruddy redrock glow that leads to some marvelous photographic opportunities.
Purportedly, there is an abundance of poison ivy growing near the pool at the base of the arch – though we did not notice it. Care should be taken, in any case, and rolling about in the plant life is not recommended for man, woman or beast.
In any case, it’s hard to concentrate on downward views with the massive bridge of stone towering vertiginously overhead. As we arrived mid-morning, daredevil climbers were just finishing up a rappel from its apex, some hundred feet above.
I cannot recommend this hike too strongly for anyone looking to enjoy a traipse off the beaten path – though this is stretching a point, given the number of people (and dogs!) navigating the canyon’s extremities.
Great canyon adventures have a way of attracting avid and appreciative followers.