Hike The Hickman Bridge Trail In Capitol Reef National Park

Updated June 2023

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LOOKING TO HIKE TO HICKMAN BRIDGE AT CAPITOL REEF?

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 visitor 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. And I think that’s actually the correct direction too do the Hickman Bridge Trail, plus it’s a better view.

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 (update: that was according to my first couple of visits, I contradict this further down)

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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National Park Goodies

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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.

How long is the Hickman Bridge trail?

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.

How much elevation gain is on the Hickman Bridge trail?

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. It’s not a difficult hike.

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Is the Hickman Bridge trail busy?

Yes! I think this is one of the most popular hikes in Capitol Reef, especially since it’s on the main highway with no fee (not on the scenic drive). The parking lot can definitely get packed and it may be tough to find a spot to park.

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.

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Can you walk on Hickman Bridge?

I can’t 100% find an answer to this but I’m heavily leaning toward no. I’ve seen a lot of pictures of Hickman Bridge and not one with someone on it. I also don’t even know how you could get to it.

Is the Hickman Bridge trail family friendly?

Yes! It’s not too difficult, doesn’t have big drop offs, and is easy to follow. It’s not too long of a trail either which definitely helps.

Is the Hickman Bridge Trail pet friendly?

Unfortunately no but very few national park hikes anywhere are. Petrified Forest is one of the most pet-friendly national parks though if you’re looking for one that is!

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Where to stay near Capitol Reef

Capitol Reef Resort – This is a great place to stay just outside of Capitol Reef and you can stay in teepees or Conestoga wagons here! THey also have regular rooms if you prefer that.

Skyridge Inn – This is my favorite place to stay in Torrey. It’s a cute little bed and breakfast with beautiful views.

Rim Rock Inn – This is a no frills hotel just outside of the park. It’s not fancy but its a great location.

Capitol Reef Camping

The Fruita campground has 71 sites and it open all year. It can be reserved March 1 to October 31 and is first come, first serve the rest of the year.

There are no hookups or showers but each site has a picnic table and fire ring. We haven’t stayed here but it looks like a really nice campground with a lot of shade and space.

Best time to visit Capitol Reef

I would personally choose fall and maybe winter. Spring can be extremely windy and summer is very hot and the busiest.

The weather in the fall is perfect AND you can pick fruit in the orchards then! Winter would be cold but alright during the day (for the most part) but can be extremely cold at night.

If you do go in the summer, just start your day early and consider dooing the Sulphur Creek hike too cool off.

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

7 thoughts on “Hike The Hickman Bridge Trail In Capitol Reef National Park

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