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  • Writer's pictureJoanna Lee

Rattlesnake Arches | Backpacking Trip

May 5, 2023

Rattlesnake Arches via Pollock Bench Trail

14 miles, 3202 feet elevation gain

Total time: 7 hours 45 minutes

This route is located near Fruita, CO and is a lightly trafficked trail, somewhat of a hidden gem. It is possible to do as a long day hike but we chose to backpack this route. There is limited information available online about this route and we primarily planned our trip based on AllTrails reviews. Here are the details of our trip...

Day One:

We started at 3pm, it was 60 degrees and partially cloudy, and hiked 3 miles in. This took about 1.5 hours. This is where we set up camp for the night. To camp in this area you must be 0.25 miles off the designated trail. There are game and social trails that we followed to locate a flat area to sleep. While we did see a few groups hike further before setting up camp, I am happy with our decision to set up camp 3 miles in. After this point the terrain gets more technical and steep which would be more difficult with your pack.

Day Two:

We woke up at sunrise and continued on the trail with our lightweight running packs, leaving the rest of our gear at camp. There is a small creek around mile 3.5 - mile 4. There was enough water in it currently to filter drinking water but it will likely be dried up by the end of May. From camp it was about 4 miles to the three arches, Cedar Tree Arch + East Rim Arch + Bridge Arch. The trail has a lot of alternating incline and decline as well as a few scrambles that required the use of our hands. Some of these parts may be tricky for dogs that are not experienced or confident in this terrain. The trail is also difficult to follow at times, with many social trails branching off the main trail. I highly recommend downloading the map on AllTrails so you don't get off route.

When we reached the final arch we followed an alternate route to head back to camp making it a lollipop route. If you are prepared to scramble you can climb up through the final arch and onto another trail, which is shown in a black dotted line on AllTrails, which connects back to the main trail. We then headed back to camp where we packed up and headed out the remaining 3 miles to the trailhead. This day was almost 6 hours, including stops for snacks, photos and packing up camp!

The views along the trail are absolutely incredible the whole way. There is very little shade along the entire route so I wouldn't recommend doing it in summer months.

General Information:

Trailhead: accessible in any car

Bathrooms: at the trailhead

Fees & Reservations: none

Dog-Friendly: yes, dogs must be under voice control at all times.

Water Source: one small creek about 3.5 miles in.

Best Time of Year: spring or fall

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