Dude Where's My Arch


Mar 28, 2012
I was simply unwilling to tolerate a Dude gap created by Scatman so I had to hike this mountain today. But more seriously, I consider the off-trail areas on the north side of City Creek Canyon to be a bit of a home away from home, I really like to spend a lot of time up there since it's very near my house and also I hardly ever run into anyone one hiking off-trail -- though this area is far more visited than it was when I started hiking there ~22 years ago.

I didn't start walking until after 11am so tried to move quickly. Scat and family walked the entire north ridge starting at the city and I didn't have patience for all of the ups and downs on the old jeep road up there, so I walked up what I call the "burned ridge," which provides access to the N ridge of City Creek conveniently close to Dude. I call it that since one time years ago I watched (from the S ridge of City Creek) a fire creep up this ridge. No idea how it might have started. For a few years the burned ridge was very obviously burned, but in the intervening years the fire-killed scrub oak has mostly rotted away and new stuff has taken its place. But if you look sort of closely, you can still see it.
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Also, of course I found a party balloon. Like, have you even done an off-trail hike if you didn't carry out one of these stupid things??
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For the most part it did not feel like early February, until a got a bit higher up.
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The burned ridge is a bit of a mystery -- why are there saw cuts up here?
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Anyhow, since I had gotten a very late start, and I'm not in super great shape, I stopped for a long lunch+coffee break on the way up, once I found a sunny spot out of the wind it was extremely pleasant and I wasn't inclined to move on quickly.
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A bit later I reached the north ridge of City Creek and moved on towards Dude. It's somewhere along here where the terrain sort of stops feeling like lame foothills and starts to be vertical enough to be feel somewhat serious. It's at this point that I was briefly held up by a big cow moose I woke up from only about 30 feet away -- she got up and sorta shook herself off. She knew I was there and wasn't acting defensive so I waited a bit and she wandered off. This whole area is quite moosey, I see one almost every time I'm up here.
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The section of this ridge between Dude and Rudy's Flat used to be pretty remote, but in recent years a decent use trail has developed. Here, on the big slope down Dude's east shoulder we can see a mix of human and animal traffic.
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This ridge sort of bumps along with some big ups and downs and a bit of scrambling here and there. It's fun. In some previous winters I've had a pretty bad time up here due to waist-deep postholing but obviously that's not so much of a problem this year.

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Looking back west we can see this small (dark colored) cliff band on the east side of the first major ridge descending down to City Creek from Dude. The first time I walked that ridge in the middle of winter I didn't know about this cliff band, which was all covered with snow, and I walked right off it, ending up swimming neck deep in snow at the bottom. In retrospect I imagine that I should have been concerned about starting a snow slide, but over the years I've seen little avalanche activity up there.

I walked most of the way to Rudy's Flat and then turned south, heading down a ridge into City Creek Canyon. My goal was an arch in the conglomerate rock that I had spotted some years ago when I had been in this area and a nasty old bull moose, sitting right on the ridge and not at all inclined to move, had forced me onto a crappy brushy slope.
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Here you can see this arch, which might not really be an arch according to the arch people since there might be a crack in the rock above it? Anyhow I don't care what the arch police think. From here the slope doesn't look too bad but it was pretty steep, brushy, and snowy -- the kind of terrain where you walk at about 0.25 MPH and hold onto scrub oaks to avoid sliding. Not real fun. Here's a closer view.

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And I guess it's actually a double arch?
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The terrain got steeper and worse as I got closer, ugh! Finally I got inside the (lower) arch which is probably a good 25 feet tall.
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At this point it was after 4pm and I started to get worried about the long thrashy exit ahead of me. About this, the less said the better, it was just a long stretch of postholing down a brush-choked gully until finally I emerged at the road, at which point it was 4 miles back to the trailhead.
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Aug 18, 2018
Great day @regehr ! Fabulous views. Very cool you made it to the Arch. Thought we had the slow speed record today, but you beat us to it. We have never seen a party balloon on or off trail….. I really like your hot coffee set up, nice!


Dec 5, 2017
Your arch photos are wonderful! I especially love the one that's 2nd to last in the whole set, where the snow-covered hills (mountains? ridges?) and clouds are framed so well inside the rock.


Mar 28, 2012
Do you wake up in the night dreaming abut falling off a ridge into deep snow? I probably would. Yikes.
I probably should but I mostly have bad dreams about failing to self-arrest in the big mountains. The very first time I climbed the Pfeifferhorn it was in a whiteout and I still have bad feelings about walking a snowy knife edge with just zero clue what's down there cause I couldn't see more than about 20 feet down. I'm torn about digging into my old photos, on one hand I'd like to see them but on the other hand it might not have been that scary at all :)


Dec 23, 2013
Great report! I didn't realize that you were taking the hard way up to Dude. It's nice to see the road in upper City Creek in the winter again since I don't get up there in the winter anymore. I cross county skied up there years ago and ran into cougar tracks along the road for a good piece. I still haven't seen a cougar in the wild, but I guess that's the next best thing.

I really like your shot taken through the arch.


Mar 28, 2012
Great report! I didn't realize that you were taking the hard way up to Dude. It's nice to see the road in upper City Creek in the winter again since I don't get up there in the winter anymore. I cross county skied up there years ago and ran into cougar tracks along the road for a good piece. I still haven't seen a cougar in the wild, but I guess that's the next best thing.
I've not yet seen a cougar in the wild either, but upper City Creek is surprisingly wild for how close it is to the city. Here's my gpx from yesterday if you're interested!


  • 2022-02-06_10-57_Sun.gpx
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Dec 11, 2015
Also, of course I found a party balloon. Like, have you even done an off-trail hike if you didn't carry out one of these stupid things??
I have found three of these GD things in the back country of Yellowstone now. Always well off trail. If I ever meet the parent of the person that had a "Happy Birthday!" I'm gonna throttle them.

Great TR, as others have said, the arch close-ups are awesome.
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