Are you headed to Arches National Park? If you’re looking for an adventure, check out the Double O Arch trail. See six arches and the Dark Angel rock!
Are you planning on hiking in Arches National Park?
Do you want to avoid the crowds in this extra-popular (and also fairly small) national park?
Try hiking the Double O Arch trail.
This is a fun trail.
A challenging trail.
A trail that is 100% worth the effort.
This trail gets less attention than the Delicate Arch trail, but it passes six different arches, plus the Dark Angel rock, and is relatively uncrowded.
The Double O trail also happens to be one of my favorite trails in Arches!
Want more nearby hiking trails? Some of these hiking trails in Canyonlands National Park are only about 30 minutes from Arches!
How Difficult is the Double O Trail?
It’s a moderately strenuous trail with some (fairly easy) rock scrambling. The first mile of the trail is easy, but the rest is much trickier.
If you’re very afraid of heights, this trail might not be for you. I’m just a little bit afraid of heights, and find a few places on this trail to be fairly nerve-wracking.
This trail includes walking across rock fins, and there are some sections with steep drop-offs. That said, the trail itself isn’t excessively narrow in those spots, so if you’re steady on your feet you should be fine.
If you hike to the Double O Arch and go back the way you came it’s a 4.2-mile out-and-back trail. The trail from the trailhead to Double O Arch is clearly marked with rock cairns.
Instead of turning around at the Double O Arch, you can keep going on the Primitive Trail. The Primitive Trail is less clearly marked (but is still marked!), and turns the Double O trail into a six-mile loop trail.
Keep in mind that only two of the arches are along the main trail.
The remaining four arches and the Dark Angel rock are on short (well-marked) trail spurs. If you do the entire trail, including all the trail spurs and the Primitive Trail, it’s a 7.9-mile loop trail.
How do I get to the double O trail?
Enter the park and drive 18 miles (all the way to the end of the road), and then park your car in the Devil’s Garden parking area.
Look for the trailhead sign for Landscape Arch and Double O Arch.
What Should I Bring With Me on the Hike?
Bring lots of water, especially if you’re hiking in the summer. There are no water sources along the trail.
I also recommend a trekking pole, especially if you’re used to hiking with one. I love these Kelty cork-handled poles for a budget-pick, or these Black Diamond Alpine carbon trekking poles for a higher-end pole.
You’ll be walking on sandstone rocks, often on an angle, so make sure to wear hiking shoes or boots with excellent grip. I love these Keen Pyrenees boots.
Need hiking boots? Check out my picks for the best women’s hiking shoes and boots.
Hiking the Double O Arch Trail
You’ll start the hike by walking along the (probably crowded) path to Landscape Arch.
Along the path, take the short spur trail to see Pine Tree Arch and Tunnel Arch.
Rejoin the main trail, and continue towards Landscape Arch.
This will likely be the most crowded part of the hike, but the crowds will get smaller and smaller as you hike the Double O trail.
If you decide you’re up for a challenge, start the hike to the Double O Arch.
This hike begins by walking (or climbing, or crawling) up a steep rock fin. If you’re scared of heights, this will probably be one of two scary spots on the trail. I was too distracted by my nerves to snap a photo of the rock fin!
Continue along the trail, and when you reach the spur trail for Navajo and Partition Arches, take it.
Next, rejoin the main trail and keep walking.
Eventually, you’ll cross another long, narrow rock fin.
This was the other spot on the trail that freaked me out a little bit, but in reality it was wide enough that I probably shouldn’t have been so nervous.
Continue along the trail.
As you hike, watch for rock cairns (small piles of rock that mark the path) to guide you.
And then, there it is.
Double O Arch.
Sit and admire the view for a moment (and maybe eat a snack).
From Double O Arch, follow the signs for Dark Angel.
This section of the trail was fairly easy, and we had the trail all to ourselves!
When you reach Dark Angel, you’ll see the large rock spire sticking straight up into the air.
Are you a rock climber? Learn more about climbing Dark Angel.
When you’re ready, turn around and leave Dark Angel.
Head back towards the Double O trail. If you prefer, you can go back the way you came, back over the narrow rock fin, down the steep rock fin, and past Landscape Arch.
Or, do what we like to do.
Hike the Primitive Trail.
The Primitive Trail is slightly less clearly marked than the Double O trail, but the rock cairns are still there.
Watch closely for them.
This section of the trail goes through a lower-lying area with gorgeous views of the rocky landscape and the green brush.
Each time I’ve hiked the Primitive Trail, it’s been almost completely quiet, with no other hikers (or only a handful of hikers) along the way.
We hiked this trail on Memorial Day weekend, and even though there were massive lines to enter the park, this trail was empty. It was fabulous.
The National Park Service says that the Primitive Trail might be more intimidating and scary if you’re afraid of heights than the main Double O trail.
I did not find this to be true for me– the rock fins on the Double O were much harder for me to pass than anything on the Primitive Trail.
Eventually, this trail wraps back around and rejoins the main trail. You’ll exit the trail near Landscape Arch.
Head back to the Devil’s Garden parking lot, and enjoy your next hike!