Hiking Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef National Park is a hidden gem in South-Central Utah. For most, this is a pass-through park as travelers drive to Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce Canyon or to Zion National Park. While you're in Capitol Reef National Park there are a ton of phenomenal hikes. This short article will touch on a handful of those trails along with some helpful information. Enjoy this guide to hiking in Capitol Reef National Park!

  • Canyon Crew
  • Out of Light
  • Moment In Time
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Capitol Reef Hiking Tips


The number one reason for emergency contact is heat illness-related!

Here in Southern Utah the air is dry and the summers are hot! Please, for your safety always have at-least two liters of water per person!

Leave No Trace/Respect

For the sake of everyones right to enjoy these natural areas please follow these simple guidelines:

Stay on designated trails

Whatever you pack in you pack out! 

Do not listen to music on a speaker.

Absolutely no carving into rocks!

Be respectful of others

Leave what you find

Respect wildlife

Gear & More 

- Wear proper hiking boots or hiking shoes.

- Moisture Wicking Clothing

- Trekking Poles

- Sun Hats

- Sunscreen

- Extra Water

- Electrolytes

- Glasses

Hiking With Dogs In Capitol Reef

From the Capitol Reef National Parks Website

- Bag your pet’s waste (and dispose of properly).

- Always leash your pet (leashes 6 feet / 1.8 meters or shorter).

- Respect wildlife. Know where you can go.

- There are no kennels in the park and pets may not be left unattended in the campground. The closest kennel boarding facility is Color Country Animal Welfare in Torrey, Utah. Consider your plans carefully before bringing your pet with you.

- Pets are only allowed in the following areas of the park:

- On the trail from the visitor center to the Fruita Campground

- On the Fremont River Trail from the campground to the south end of Hattie's Field (where there is a gate)

- In unfenced and/or unlocked orchards

- In the Chesnut and Doc Inglesby picnic areas in campgrounds

- Within 50 feet of center line of roads (paved and dirt) open to public vehicle travel

- Parking areas open to public vehicle travel

Pets are not permitted on other hiking trails, in public buildings, or in the backcountry.

Hickman Bridge Trail

Capitol Reef National Park

This is one of the more well known trails in Capitol Reef National Park but for good reason. The trail is well maintained, family friendly and an all around great hike. During this trail you will climb above the main canyon with grand vistas from the West, South and East. There is no shortage of amazing views. - A trail brochure is available at the trailhead. It points out 17 things to observe along the hike at various interpretive zones. This will give you a lot of information about the park which I highly recommend participating in.

Once you start to go uphill, the views begin to come into view. As you continue, you will enter a short canyon with some vegetation. At this point the trail will split into two, giving you an option of the loop you want to hike. (The trail looks like a balloon; one single trail up to a split that in turn makes a loop back to the same trail back out). Either way is great though, I prefer going right. This allows you to walk right up to and under Hickman Bridge. Follow the trail under Hickman Bridge, follow the trail left and back around the beginning of the loop and continue back the way you came.

Getting Here: Follow Highway 24 south out of Torrey, Utah. Once you enter the main canyon (after the Visitor Center) the parking lot will be on your left hand side.

- Mileage: 1.7 Miles

- Elevation Gain: 416ft

- Time Duration: One Hour

- Trail Type: Out & Back/Loop

Cohab Canyon Trail

Capitol Reef National Park

The trail begins with long switch-backs, meandering up and up to the sandstone walls above. As you ascend, the views of the Campgrounds will come into view as well as the Gifford House, Orchards and the Capitol Reef National Park Visitor Center. When you’re at the top, you will enter a phenomenal canyon with many tributary canyons. These tributary canyons are fantastic to explore because there are so many and they are short in length. Continue on the main path and you will begin to hike up and out of the canyon. At the top, walking along the falt path of lava rock to the end of the trail. At this point the trail disappears a couple hundred feet down to the Freemont River. This is a great spot to have lunch and enjoy the extremely beautiful views! Be sure to bring a camera around because the vistas are worth every picture.

Getting Here: Follow Highway 24 south out of Torrey, Utah. You will park near the barn and horses along the Scenic Drive Rd just down the way from the Capitol Reef Visitor Center.

- Mileage: 3 Miles

- Elevation Gain: 793 Feet

- Time Duration: 2 Hours

- Trail Type: Out & Back

Cassidy Arch Trail

Capitol Reef National Park

Turn onto the Scenic Drive Rd, pass the Capitol Reef Visitor Center, campgrounds and Gifford House. You will see a Stop Sign at this point if you do not have a NPS Pass you will need to pay the $15 fee. Continue until you see a large canyon on the left and take the paved road to it. This road turns to dirt and will meander until you reach a paved parking lot. Here, you will begin the trail. Cassidy Arch trail is a great hike for teenagers and above in age. There are exposed sections where if not paying attention or being reckless there is a potential of falling off a cliff edge. Be careful! If you want a good workout you choose the right trail. Your heart and thighs will pump because the entire trail is uphill. Many canyons, spires and natural sandstone features will reveal themselves the more you ascend. There is one split on this trail which will veer to the right, this is where you stay left to continue to Cassidy Arch. Once you arrive at Cassidy Arch, be cautious! The angle of rock leads right into the arch and drops hundreds of feet down. But the views are truly beautiful! This will summarize the Cassidy Arch Trail.

Getting Here: Drive Highway 24 South out of Torrey, Utah. Turn right on the Scenic Drive Rd and follow it into the main canyon on the left. The pavement will end but the road is well maintained. You will arrive at a paved parking area with a bathroom and this is it.

- Mileage: 3.1 Miles

- Elevation Gain: 666 Feet

- Time Duration: 2 Hours

- Trail Type: Out & Back

Chimney Rock Loop Trail

Capitol Reef National Park

The trailhead is the first stop along highway 24 after entering Capitol Reef National Park from Torrey. It is located on the left, you can not miss it. There is a small parking area with a bathroom. Starting the Chimney Rock trail is a nice mellow walk that turns to gaining elevation quickly. Switch-back after switch-back and Chimney Rock will come into view. Shortly after, you have a decision to make, which direction to make the loop. The left will be fairly flat as the right will gain elevation immediately.. Either way, you’re making the correct decision because this is a loop trail. At the far end of this loop is where the best of the best views are. You can look south-ward for miles and miles as the undulating and precipitous Waterpocket Fold travels into the horizon. This breath-taking view makes every step worth it! Trust me on this! Continue the loop back and the trail is complete.

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Getting Here: Follow highway 24 south from Torrey, Utah. Once you enter Capitol Reef National Park the trailhead will come up shortly on your left hand side. 

- Mileage: 3.3 Miles

- Elevation Gain: 795 Feet

- Time Duration: 2 Hours

- Trail Type: Loop Trail

Grand Wash Trail - East Side

Capitol Reef National Park

The Grand Wash Trail is an extremely easy and beautiful hike. It is perfect for those who have a family or who may not be capable of hiking moderately strenuous trails, or who want to take a stroll through a nice wide canyon. The trail is called Grand Wash because of the flash floods that travel through this otherwise dry wash which form this beautiful canyon. The flash floods can be very grand at times. WATCH THE WEATHER FORECAST! Along this flat, windy trail you will notice nice vegetation, a short tributary canyon, amazing reflecting light that creates a golden glow. Another thing you will notice is the small pockets or holes in the sandstone walls. This is formed from porous areas of sandstone that when it rains or flash floods, water eats away these areas and creates the holes you see today. While on this hike you will enter the Narrows section, just a mile or so into this hike. The walls get closer, taller and creates an S curve, meandering through a semi dark section of trail. Shortly after, the walls widen and lower as the sunlight shines into the canyon floor. The Grand Wash Trail ends at the Cassidy Arch Trailhead at which point you will turn around to follow the same canyon back to your vehicle.

  • On the Sunrise Photography Tour
  • Canyon Light

Getting Here: Follow highway 24 south from Torrey, Utah. As you drive pass the Visitor Center while driving on the 24 this trailhead is the only parking area on the right hand side while in the main canyon.

- Mileage: 5.0 Miles

- Elevation Gain: 340 Feet

- Time Duration: 2 Hours

- Trail Type: Out & Back

Frying Pan Trail

Capitol Reef National Park

This one my favorite trails in Capitol Reef National Park. The trailhead starts at the Cassidy Arch trailhead but when the trail splits about a half mile in, you will follow the trail right instead of going left which travels to Cassidy Arch. This is a longer trail system and you need two vehicles in order to make the full length of the trail because the trail ends at the Hickman Bridge Trailhead. This is a more strenuous hike than the others listed for many reasons; longer distance, very exposed to sunlight and heat, elevation gain and loss and some minimal route finding abilities are needed. Caution: They call this the Frying Pan Trail for a reason! Do not do this trail in the heat of summer unless you have a vast amount of water on your person! 

Getting Here: Drive Highway 24 South out of Torrey, Utah. Turn right on the Scenic Drive Rd and follow it into the main canyon on the left. The pavement will end but the road is well maintained. You will arrive at a paved parking area with a bathroom and this is it.

Mileage: 4.5 Miles

(Or Hike Back To Original Trailhead - 9.0 Miles)

Elevation Gain: 2,618 Feet

Time Duration: 2.5 Hours

Trail Type: Point to Point (Shuttle Needed)

Freemont Gorge Overlook Trail

Capitol Reef National Park

If you’re looking for a great hike to get the blood pumping this is a good one. Right out of the gate you will begin to gain elevation while taking fairly large steps up a make-shift staircase. The higher in elevation you get the better the view becomes. You will soon be able to look down the main canyon of Capitol Reef National Park which highway 24 travels through to end up toward Hanksville, Utah. Once at the top, you will be standing on a fairly flat volcanic plateau with a 360 degree view. Continue on the plateau to eventually hike alongside the Freemont River Gorge that drops significantly. Just up a little more and the end of the trail is marked by a large cairn (you cannot miss it). A phenomenal ending point with scenes of large gorges formed from the Freemont River and seasonal flash floods and the Water-pocket Fold is an undeniable breath-taking sight!

Getting Here: Follow highway 24 south from Torrey, Utah. At the Scenic Drive and/or the Visitor Center, go right. About a mile along the drive there will be a very small building on the right with a small parking lot.

Mileage: 4.3 Miles

Elevation Gain: 1,021 Feet

Time Duration: 2.5 Hours

Trail Type: Out & Back

Sunset Point Trail

Capitol Reef National Park

This trail is called Sunset Point for a reason. Along this mellow, winding and scenic trail you will be greeted with amazing views the entire time! This has to be one of the best trails for those who aren’t capable of strenuous hikes or that have small children. At the end of this short trail the view doesn’t change all that much but you will be able to see the Sulphur Creek Canyon which is honestly amazing and a little intimidating. If you’re looking for a great spot to photograph sunset this is easily one of the best trails for that.

One spot along our Sunset Photography Tour

Getting Here: Follow highway 24 south from Torrey, Utah. After you pass the Chimney Rock Trailhead, there will be a right-hand turn in just a minute or so. Continue on this road till the pavement ends and it turns to dirt. Follow this until you reach a round-about and park here.

Mileage: 0.8 Miles

Elevation Gain: 80 Feet

Time Duration: 1 Hour

Trail Type: Out & Back

I hope this hiking Capitol Reef guide helped you during your travels here. Ready below and you may find more information you need.

Here in the small town of Torrey, Utah we are grateful for your business and are happy to help with anything you may need.

If you're looking for lodging click here. If you're looking restaurants or for a  guide while you're here such as; fly fishing, hiking, jeep tours or photography tours click here.

Again, we at Capitol Reef and Torrey, Utah appreciate your time. Safe travels!

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