Harmonica Arch Trail is a 4.9 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Sedalia, Colorado that features a river and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, nature trips, and birding and is best used from April until November. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.
dogs on leash
Sculpted from granite, Harmonica Arch is one of Colorados longest arches. You can see Harmonica Arch from the lower Goose Creek Trail, and the short hike to this suspended spectacle provides a unique outing.
Fantastic hike, strenuous because of elevation gain. I pulled into the parking lot for Goose Creek and their must of been 50 cars. Most were doing Goose Creek. Harmonica Arch shares about the first mile with Goose Creek so that first mile was packed. Once I left Goose Creek the crowds were modest and most of these stopped at the base of the mountain so I only shared the climb to the arch with one other couple.
Their were many great camp sites for backpacking if you want to make it an overnight.
The arch shouldn't be hard to find. The other reviews gave excellent trail descriptions. I would add that once you reach the top, you must go all the back to find the arch so don't quit to soon. Left back gets you views from the top, Right back gets you around underneath, but to get underneath is not for the faint of heart.
Spectacular hike. I don't know why the person before me gave it only 3 stars. This is 1 of my absolute FAV hikes this season and I don't give out 5 stars often.
The Arch is IMPOSSIBLE to find though, unless you know where you are going and might be the reason for lower star rating. I went with the Colorado Mtn Club; the team leader has lead this hike for numerous years. Without him, I would NEVER have found the Arch on my own. I tried to record my tracks on Alltrails but the app failed.- EPIC failure. Have to find another app that works better to record tracks.
But perhaps it is just as well, to keep the arch elusive since there were NO hikers going to the arch when we were there. Everyone went to the Shaft house or the campgrounds.
Even getting to the TH is bit of long drive up dirt road. From Denver, take US 285 to Pine Jnx. Turn left on Pine Valley road at the traffic light. Continue south on Pine valley road a few 100 yards to a dirt road on the right. Turn right and follow signs to Goose Creek campground. Go past the campground about 1 mile and turn right on road to Goose creek trail parking lot.
The sign at TH shows Lost Creek Wilderness. They just put a new wooden sign for Lost Creek right as we were starting our hike (see pics).
The trail goes through the Hayman burn area. We saw a large snake on the logs below near the creek side. (see pics). Past first log crossing (they have put in two new logs at the crossing), continue on Goose creek trail, following the creek. When you get to the second bridge (an actual bridge, not log crossing) DO NOT CROSS the bridge. The trail continues on the left side. The trail is not marked, but is quite apparent on the left. Just follow that trail along the creek, it winds up and down and you get to a clearing where if you step off the trail on the right you will see the Arch in the distance next to the organ pipe (finger) rock formation (see pics). Continue following the trail and you will see big rocks on the right. You want to keep the giant rocks on the right and in sight as you climb up. Don't veer off to left or you will end up in the canyon. The trail drops down right towards a campsite, you will pass that campsite and continue climbing up on the trail. The trail eventually gets very faint and lost once you get up near the rocks. There are some small cairns sporadically, but really hard to find. There were several faint trails, essentially keep climbing up until you leave the trees. You will see 1st of the balancing rocks (called balanced "notes"). If you look up you will see the trail continuing up the rocks up and slightly right direction. You will come to a very smooth rock basin, this is where it gets hard to find since you are going over the arch and coming up from the top behind it. When you see the organ pipe, there is a steep walk down the granite rocks down towards it and traversing across before you get to it to get to the arch. If you are afraid of heights this may not be for you. But the granite surface is pretty solid so personally I did not think it that difficult- take small steps. If you try to use long running steps and momentum you might find yourself flying off into space!
You can climb up over the top of the Arch if you have time. We had leave since rain clouds were gathering overhead.
There is no denying that it is extremely hard to find the arch once you get in the rock gully past the creek. People have given up around the gully ledges since it is hard to find the way to the top. BUT THE ROCK FORMATIONS AND VIEW IS WORTH IT (see pics).
Coming down, we took another route from the other side and I can't even describe it since it was extremely hard to find had it not been for the CMC team leader who knew his way around; and even he had to check his bearings once in a while. From that side you have to cross the creek at one point and the crossing is from UP not from down towards the creek. This way you come back to Goose creek trail on the other side and cross the bridge this time on the right to get back to the original trail. The way down from this side was lot of off-trail hiking with several prickly plants that will scratch you or tree limbs that will get you in the eye if you are not careful.
However, all this is WORTH it I guarantee you. I thought this was an amazing hike, with fabulous views and curious rock formations. It is rated only as Moderate B being 6 miles and approx 1600 ft elevation gain; but since it is lot of off trail hiking and rock scrambles at the end, it seems much harder exertion than normal Moderate B hikes.
Will do this again next year! Yea!
Hard to get to and hard to stay on the trail but well worth it to see the arch up close.