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Arch Canyon - Boulder Overlook Professional Review and Guide
"A day hike/wilderness route to a high overlook in the Ajo Mountains. Arch Canyon is named for a pair of natural arches that decorate a cliff wall high above its entrance. The larger arch is 90 feet wide, and a tiny, gracile arch is perched atop it. These arches are best viewed from the entrance of the canyon; as the path penetrates the cleft, they are hidden from view. The track is well-defined for the first half-mile as it follows the main canyon. Beyond this point, the route becomes a steep scramble marked by cairns as it climbs to an overlook of Boulder Canyon."
--Erik Molvar, Hiking Arizona's Cactus Country (Falcon Guides).
The first part of this hike is pretty easy as you make your way around the natural arches. Once you get into Arch Canyon, you'll see a sign that mentions a steep climb ahead -- and it's completely accurate. The seoncd part of the hike can be somewhat strenuous as you make the climb up to the overlook. Many cairns mark the trail, but they can be hard to track once you reach the top and try to go directly to the arches. Make sure you keep an eye on your path so you can find your way back to the trail since it really is the only way back down.
Overall, this is a great climb, with wonderful views and a chance to view the two arches up close.
Depending on how crowded the park is, you may not see anyone at all. I've climbed this twice and only seen one person. Bring plenty of water and sunscreen since there is little shade.
The namesake arches can be viewed from the Ajo Mountain Drive, and you can get a closer look by walking a short way into the desert at the trailhead, before it enters the canyon. In other words, you don't have to take the whole hike to see the arches - the park literature does not make this clear, or at least it didn't to me. I wish I'd had time to do the whole hike as the spot is quite dramatic and remote. It was hot, dry, and sun-drenched in these mountains even in winter, so don't skimp on the water and sunscreen!
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