This hike is located in the Santiam State Forest which is heavily managed for timber production. The 50-foot tall, 40-foot wide arch was discovered in 1951 after the Sardine Creek Fire scoured the hillside and removed the tree cover.
From the Natural Arch Trailhead, go back ten yards and find the trail. The trail makes four switchbacks in secondary forest to the nose of a ridge. Douglas-fir, western hemlock, and vine maple predominate over a bear-grass, bracken and Oregon grape understory. Cross a scree slope and drop steeply down to make six switchbacks. Some of the steepness is ameliorated by wood-reinforced steps. Then, there’s a short traverse down to a rock face. You can scramble through the arch and down to the right and then climb up to the top of the rock and go right to sit on the top of the arch. Small caves indent the base of the arch. Be careful! Combine this visit with the nearby Rocky Top Hike.