Monday, January 9, 2012

Capitol Reef National Park - Hiking Hickman Bridge

The Hickman Bridge (a large, natural arch), was the one hike I really wanted to make time for at Capitol Reef.  Other members of my group wanted to hike the Grand Wash, so we decided to see if we could fit in both.  The Hickman Bridge hike is rated as moderate in the park information.  It is a one mile trail with a 400 foot elevation gain, and has both flat sections and sections that are a moderate climb.  It is suitable for all ages, and only requires comfortable shoes in the way of gear.  It is not a shady hike, so plan accordingly, and take water.

Beginning of the Hickman Bridge trail

The Hickman Bridge trail begins in a flat section.  It is a self-guided trail, and if you wish to, you may pick up a trail guide and follow the numbered points of interest along the way (there are 18).  We did not stop at all the points of interest, but did enjoy looking things up in the trail guide at various points along the trail.  Early in our hike, we passed several cactus plants, and some of them were in bloom.

Cactus on the Hickman Bridge trail

Allow about an hour each way on this hike.  It is a popular trail, and we talked to several people along the way.  Still, it did not feel crowded, and there were sections of the trail where we were alone.  The trail is well-maintained and easy to follow.

A view from the trail

Small arch bridges just off the trail.

Along the trail, we found these small natural arches.  We took a detour at this point, and spent several minutes climbing under these arches.  There is a large central hole through which you can view the blue sky.  It was shady in this small cavern-like area, and we stopped for a water break and took some pictures.

View from under the small arches

 It is hard to convey in words and photos what this little gem of a stop looked like, but I found this video clip a hiker posted to YouTube.  I hope it gives you a feel for one of our favorite parts of the trail!

We continued on the hike, and soon came to an area where the trail is mostly rock. There are some cairns marking the way, but at this point, you are very close to the arch and it isn't hard to find.  The Hickman Bridge is very striking.  It is a massive arch, and we sat under it in the shade for awhile.  We photographed it from both sides, and found it to be well worth the hike.

Hickman Bridge - Capitol Reef National Park

The "backside" of the Hickman Bridge

This is a really fun hike, and there are lots of interesting hollowed out places in the rocks along the way.  We had fun exploring off to the sides of the trail, and the kids found places to wiggle through and crawl over or under.  This spot was too good to resist, as it was shaped like a sarcophagus, so we stopped for a family photo op.

"Sarchophagus" shaped opening in the rock wall.

We spent some time at the Hickman Bridge just soaking in the beautiful scenery.  I am really glad we made time for this hike.  If you are visiting Capitol Reef and only have time for one hike, I would definitely recommend this one!

A great place to nap at the top of the trail!

If you go:  the trailhead is about 2 miles east of the Capitol Reef National Park Visitor's Center.  From the Visitor's Center, travel east on Highway 24 until you see the signs for the trailhead.  There is ample parking in the lot, and a pit toilet is available.  Plan about an hour each way on this hike, as there is a lot to see and enjoy along the way!

Flowers along the trail.

And of course, hiking is always great with a friend!

Nandy Bear at Capitol Reef National Park

More of our trip through Capitol Reef:
Hiking the Grand Wash

1 comment:

  1. Great hike- so glad we convinced the boys to do it. They were glad after the fact- so even better!