Thursday, November 18, 2010

Wildcat Trail at Monument Valley

The Wildcat Trail is a 3.2 mile lasso type loop in Monument Valley Tribal Park in the Navajo Nation along the Utah and Arizona border. It is the only hiking trail in Monument Valley that the public can travel without a guide. Most visitors at Monument Valley follow the self guiding Valley Drive or take a guided tour.

The trail head is near the visitor center, just past the right turn that descends to the Valley Drive. The trail makes a loop around the West Mitten, one of the most famous of the Monument Valley formations. There are also good views of the East Mitten.
Along the first segment are small signs identifying several of the desert plants. Besides the Broom Snakeweed, others mentioned include Russian Thistle, Rabbitbrush, Narrowleaf Yucca, Mormon Tea, Blackbrush, Cliff Rose, Threadleaf Groundsel, Prickly Pear Cactus, and there also scattered Utah Junipers. Along the north side of the trail is the massive Sentinel Mesa.

Around the north side of the loop are good views toward a group of formations that include the Big Indian, Castle Butte, King on his Throne, and Brigham’s Tomb.

Some of these same formations are among the ones in the famous view along Highway 163 approaching Monument Valley from the northeast.

Around the north side of the West Mitten I noticed a sliver of blue sky visible through the Mitten, a small arch forming. The opening is visible from both sides from the right angle, but is easier to see from the north side.
Around the east side of the loop, the trail passes directly between the East Mitten and the West Mitten.

 My hike took 1:45 hours on a 45 F degree mid November day. The park wasn’t very crowded and I saw 3 other hikers during my trip.

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