Capitol Reef National Park is a day hiker’s paradise. Most trails are relatively short and well developed offering incredible scenery. Some trails can be strenuous due to the rugged landscape. Capitol Gorge is an easy walk along the bottom of a narrow, dry wash with towering walls. The Golden Throne trail climbs from the canyon bottom to the base of the Golden Throne offering panoramic views. The Hickman Bridge trail is a short nature walk that leads to a large natural bridge. Many others trails in the park offer similar experiences.
HIKING IN CAPITOL REEF NATIONAL PARK
Utah’s Capitol Reef National Park is filled with a diverse and stunning variety of landscapes and trails. Many trails offer variations and combinations, each with something special to offer. Be sure to check out our blog posts below that go into greater detail about many of these hikes and hiking in Capitol Reef National Park.
Hickman Bridge Trail: A moderate 1.7 mile out-and-back trail with a 300 foot incline. The trailhead is two miles east of the visitor center on Highway 24. Hickman Natural Bridge, a massive natural sandstone arch formation that spans across a canyon is the crowning jewel of this hike.
Cassidy Arch Trail: Named after the famous Butch Cassidy this moderately challenging 3 mile out-and-back trail leads you to the beautiful Cassidy Arch and panoramic views of the park.
Capitol Gorge Trail: A moderate 4.5 mile out-and-back hike that takes you through a narrow canyon, past towering rock cliffs, and ancient petroglyphs. For more on Capitol Gorge Trail.
Sulphur Creek Trail: This moderate 5.5-mile trail is a popular choice for hikers of all ages and experience levels. Sulphur Creek highlights deep canyons, ancient rocks, opportunities for wading and swimming in the creek, canyoneering, waterfalls, rock scrambling and more.
Chimney Rock Trail: This moderate 3 mile loop with fairly steep elevation gain near the beginning offers fantastic views of Chimney Rock, a towering 400 foot sandstone pillar. The trailhead is three miles east of the visitor center off Highway 24 and accessible via a short hiking trail. It’s a great choice for capturing stunning photographs.
Grand Wash Trail: A flat easy hiking trail through towering rock walls and sandy washes that offers many variations (shuttle, out-and-back, adding Cassidy Arch Trail to Frying Pan to Cohab Canyon). The Grand Wash cuts through the upper portion of the Waterpocket Fold. It’s a peaceful, flat, scenic, and during certain times of the day shady hike. Spring is a great time to visit and enjoy the wildflowers.
Fruita Historic District Trails: Fruita has several short and easy trails that offer glimpses into the park’s agricultural history. The Fremont River Trail and Cohab Canyon Trail are popular options for exploring the beautiful orchards and historic buildings of the area.
Navajo Knobs Trail: This challenging 9.4 mile out-and-back trail takes you to the Navajo Knobs where hikers can enjoy panoramic views of the park and the Waterpocket Fold.
Cohab Canyon: A 3 mile out-and-back trail that sits on top of the Waterpocket Fold, overlooks Fruita, and later drops down into a gorge. This trail offers variation that connects to Frying Pan and onto Cassidy Arch and the Grand Wash.
Frying Pan: Is a challenging and beautiful 8.5 mile hike across a mesa and can be rather scorching in the heat of the summer. This hike begins/ends at either the Cohab Canyon Trailhead or the Grand Wash Trailhead.
Cathedral Valley: Cathedral Valley is a remote area within the park that requires high-clearance vehicles. It is incredibly stunning and unique highlighting monoliths, towering cathedrals, and incredible rock formations. The Cathedral Valley Loop Road is the way to explore this rugged and beautiful area.
Capitol Reef Scenic Drive is an incredible way to enjoy the variety of landscapes Capitol Reef National Park has to offer. There are numerous pullouts and viewpoints, allowing you to appreciate the stunning landscapes without much hiking
Capitol Reef National Park is a desert environment remember to check the trail conditions/weather, carry adequate water, wear appropriate footwear, and know your surroundings.
HIKING NEAR CAPITOL REEF
If wondering through pine forests, around alpine lakes and breathing the thin air at ten thousand feet is what you crave then Boulder Mountain will provide many days enjoyment. Boulder Mountain is a broad, flat topped plateau rising out of the surrounding red rock desert. The top of the mountain is mostly wide open alpine meadows with a few scattered aspen groves. Dozens of small lakes dot the top of the mountain including Blind Lake, Posey Lake and Cyclone Lake, just to mention a few. Brown’s Point and Choke Cherry Point offer splendid views of Capitol Reef and the Henry Mountains to the east. This area is only accessible from late spring to autumn.
|Trail Name||Location||Difficulty||Trail Types|
|Angel Point Trail||Hanksville||Easy||ATV | Hiking | Jeep|
|Burro Wash Trail||Notom||Hard||Hiking|
|Cottonwood Wash Trail||Notom||Moderate||Hiking|
|Five Mile Wash||Bicknell||Moderate||Hiking|
|Fremont River Trail||Bicknell||Easy||Hiking|
|Horseshoe Canyon||Hanksville||Easy||ATV | Hiking | Jeep|
|Little Wild Horse Trail||Hanksville||Easy||Hiking|
|North Caineville Mesa||Caineville||Hard||Hiking|
|Pleasant Creek Trail||Notom||Easy||Hiking|
|Sheets Gultch Trail||Notom||Moderate||Hiking|
|South Caineville Mesa||Caineville||Hard||Hiking|