How many of us can say they have a unique rock formation within a 10 minute drive of where they live? The hike to Rifle Arch was my choice for an under two hour, heart-pumping trek with Petey just before the Superbowl. It’s a go-to hike for many locals and great for a short trail run in the drier seasons. Visitors can easily overlook this hike since the parking area at the trailhead is rather nondescript with little signage. The arch is tucked away and not visible from Highway 13, so unless you do some research beforehand, you might just drive right by.
It’s a moderate, 1.5 mile hike (one way) with a couple of steep hills. Not working in my favor was the bluebird day and warmer temperatures. Mud and slush galore! I would not recommend doing this hike in clothing that you don’t want to get dirty. Some sort of traction for your boots comes in handy on the downhill, snowy parts. The grand majority of the trail was hard snowpack with just a few muddy spots. No snowshoes necessary, unless you feel like doing some wandering. Sunscreen is a must here, any time of year. Glad that I slathered it on my face before heading out since the reflection from the snow would make for a brutal sunburn.
Most people stop where the trail “ends” at a bench at around 1.5 miles in to take a breather. For those feeling brave, you can end the hike by scrambling up to just behind the arch for some wonderful views. This was tricky today since most of the rocks were slick, snow-covered, and muddy. A twisted ankle was just waiting to happen. Luckily, I wore snowpants and flopped my way ungracefully up to the top. What wonderful views! And then I flopped/slid my way back down. Petey may have pushed me a few times.
A note to dog owners: there are lots of rabbits in the area. We’ve learned this the hard way when Petey has taken off in a fit of delight.