|This is the easiest and shortest hike to Harmonica Arch and its rolling rock playground.
The arch gets its name from the parallel water streaks across its east face.
The beginning of the hike on the Goose Creek Trail is through the edge of the Hayman burn,
but mercifully, the area around the arch was spared this travesty. You cannot see Harmonica
Arch from the Goose Creek Trailhead.
Start at the Goose Creek Trailhead
at 8,220 feet, enter the Lost Creek Wilderness, hike 0.2 mile west down to the trail junction
with the Hankins Pass Trail. Turn northeast (right) and hike 0.2 mile down to meet Goose Creek
at 8,020 feet, which is the hike’s lowpoint. Hike 0.2 mile northwest to the bridge where
the Goose Creek Trail crosses to the creek’s northeast side. Do not cross the bridge.
Leave the main Goose Creek Trail just before the bridge, and hike 0.5 mile northwest on a
strong use trail that undulates near the creek’s southwest side. When you reach the
edge of a meadow, you will be able to see Harmonica Arch and a dramatic
pinnacle dubbed the Organ Pipe flanking the arch. Hike another 0.5 mile north-northwest on the
continuing use trail past several good campsites to the drainage that is south of the arch and
pinnacle. Continue on the use trail as it leaves Goose Creek and climbs northwest along the south side of
this small drainage. The trail may be hard to follow in a few places, but it stays on the south
side of the drainage to avoid the many large boulders on the north side.
Higher, the slope angle relents and the trail becomes more distinct. Continue northwest on the
use trail until you are well past the difficulties that are north of you. When easy, the trail
swings north, then northeast to end at the bottom of a beautiful basin (see photos) that is below
a 9,020-foot rock dome. Your trail approach is over; now for the summit ride.
Scamper northeast up through the basin onto the large flat area on top of the dome.
You cannot see the arch from here, but you are close. Hike east past some large boulders,
and looking for the easiest way, cross a few Class 2 gaps. Still following the path of least
resistance, hike down to the east on solid rock (Class 2) until you can see the arch above you to the northwest.
The Organ Pipe will now be obvious just 100 yards to the east. This is a wonderful bowl to explore,
but the smooth rock slabs roll away into vertical cliffs, so carefully consider your steps.
To cross the arch, climb back up the way you came, until you are south of the arch, then scamper north
and cross the arch. It is hard to know when you are over the arch,
but a companion in the basin below can tell you. The higher, west edge of the arch provides secure footing,
but the rock rolls away to the east. The northern end of the arch narrows into an exposed knife edge
that will stop casual hikers, so only go as far as your arch bagging conscious requires.