Hiking To Hickman Bridge In Capitol Reef National Park

Updated April 2021

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After driving through Capitol Reef a couple times and exploring the south end a little bit, it was time for a proper visit to the scenic road in the north.  There is the highway that passes through the park and the 10-mile (one way) scenic drive near the visitors center taking you further into the park.  Both have a number of hikes and orchards along the way with plenty to do for a whole or half day in Capitol Reef.

Hickman bridge trail is one of the first and easiest hikes in Capitol Reef.  It’s not a long hike, but it felt like it took forever.  Maybe it’s because it was so hot or I just wasn’t in great shape.  I’m not really sure, but it was totally worth it.

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The first part of the hike to Hickman bridge is a little uphill with some switchbacks along a wash for some parts, then you start to walk up higher with the wash below.  Eventually, the canyon walls start to tower over you and you think you’re never going to make it. Or you don’t.  Who knows.  After a while, you come to a sign giving you two options to get to the bridge.  One isn’t better than the other, you’ll get there either way, but I liked going to the right.

We went right and it was a little shorter that way to actually get to Hickman Bridge. We rounded a corner with a wonderful view of the bridge and spent a little time hanging around up there, catching our breath and rehydrating.  The trail continues under Hickman Bridge making a loop back to the sign.

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We wandered a bit off trail here to enjoy the view of the rest of the park below.  The sky was stormy looking and the breeze was ideal.  This was probably my favorite spot in the park so far, but I really enjoy a lot of it.  Headquarters Canyon in the Waterpocket Fold is my other favorite spot.  Eventually, it was time to keep going and see what the rest of the park had to offer.

I really enjoyed the hike to Hickman Bridge, even if it felt like it took forever.  I still think Capitol Reef deserves more visitors, but I’m ok with it not being as crazy as the rest of Utah’s parks.  I would love to explore more of Capitol Reef, there’s just so much to it!

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Where is the Hickman Bridge Trailhead?

The Hickman Bridge trailhead is about 45 minutes from Hanksville down Highway 24, about 20 from Torrey, and just 4 minutes from the visitor center.

It’s right on the main highway through the park, not far from the Petroglyph Trail. It’s marked but it does get busy so I’d go earlier in the day if possible. The parking does fill up.

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How long is the Hickman Bridge Hike?

The Hickman Bridge trail is 1.8 miles round-trip and 1-2 hours should be plenty for this. It’s not a super long or difficult hike, but like always this will depend on how fast you walk and how much you stop.

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Is the Hickman Bridge hike hard?

Not really. It has about 450 feet of elevation gain. Part of the trail is sandy but it’s also a little rocky. There is a small set of switchbacks at the beginning of the trail, but they’re not bad.

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What to bring on the Hickman Bridge trail

Water bottle – It’ll be hot and you’ll need to stay hydrated.  Even if it’s not hot you need to stay hydrated.  A Hydro Flask will keep your water ice cold all day long.

Sunscreen – If you plan on being outside, you’ll want sunscreen.  I like the Neutrogena a lot, but if you’ll be visiting a beach soon, you’ll want a reef-safe sunscreen.

Hat – You’ll want some kind of hat to keep the sun out of your eyes.  A baseball hat should be fine but a bucket hat or sun hat could help keep the sun off your neck.

Sunglasses – This is a must no matter where you are.  Sunglasses are best paired with a hat on those really bright days.

Light Jacket – Because you just never know.  Weather can change quickly depending on where you are, time of day, and season.  I usually use my rain jacket for this.

Good hiking shoes – If you’re hiking when it’s warmer, Chacos will be good.  If it’s fall, muddy, or a little cooler out, you’ll want closed toe shoes.

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Is the Hickman Bridge hike worth it?

Yes! This isn’t my top hike in Capitol Reef (Cohab Canyon or Headquarters Canyon probably gets that) but it is really great. The bridge is cool, tucked away in it’s not so little canyon.

Plus, the view on the road side of the bridge is one of my favorites in the park. It’s a great short hike and easy to fill some spare time in Capitol Reef.

Have you hiked the Hickman Bridge trail before? What did you think of it? What is your favorite hike in Capitol Reef?

Have you been to Capitol Reef?  Did you hike to Hickman Bridge?  What did you think of it?  Do you want to go? 

7 thoughts on “Hiking To Hickman Bridge In Capitol Reef National Park

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