CAPITOL REEF NATIONAL PARK — Looking for a nice hike in a national park? Like looking at natural bridges and other cool rock formations? If so, the Hickman Bridge Trail in Capitol Reef National Park has you covered.
First off, Capitol Reef is already a great visit since it is less crowded than the other national parks in Utah. It also offers unique landscapes and tons of remote, backcountry trails. It is a massive park and would take a long time to fully explore. But if you only have an afternoon, the Hickman Bridge Trail is a good place to start.
The trailhead of Hickman Bridge is located off state Route 24, the main road through the park. There is a parking lot on the north side of the road and the trailhead is marked with signs.
The hard-packed dirt trail starts off following the Fremont River and gradually inclines. There are some rock steps that make it easier during the ascent up the switchbacks, which offer a great view of the surrounding canyon. You should also keep your eyes peeled during the hike because there are signs of prehistoric Native American culture along the way, according to the National Park Service.
The first half-mile does quite a bit of climbing, but the total elevation gain is only about 400 feet so it isn’t too bad. About the half-mile point, there is an option to turn off the Hickman Trail and go toward the Rim Overlook and the Navajo Knobs instead, but note that it is a longer, more strenuous hike.
Once you continue along the Hickman Trail, you will gradually begin to descend into a small wash and the trail gets fairly sandy. There are also a few, sparse trees that offer shade along the hike in this area.
If you are lucky, you may also see some small wildlife like squirrels and chipmunks.
Eventually, you will reach a fork in the trail with a marker showing the option to go either right or left to the bridge — the trail loops.
Continue along either path following the trail markers until you reach the 133-foot natural bridge. You can walk completely under the bridge and it offers a nice picnic or rest spot.
Hikers can also enjoy nice views over the canyon once you follow the loop past the bridge. The area overlooking the canyon is often quite windy and provides a nice breeze if the weather is hot.
Climbing on top of the bridge is prohibited, according to Capitol Reef National Park officials.
For more ideas on things to do in Capitol Reef National Park, visit Utah.com.
Length: About 2 miles round trip
Time: About one hour and 15 minutes