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I feel like every time I do a new hike at Capitol Reef, it’s my favorite and things were no different on my first visit of the year. Our plan was to drive Cathedral Valley Loop and camp a night out there, but as usual, things changed. Our new plan was to hike Cohab Canyon then get salsa and ice cream at the Gifford Store.
Off we went to start the hike. The weather was pretty perfect since it was still early in the year. It starts with a set of switchbacks, which was probably most of the elevation gain for the hike. I was having a tough time but I was determined to see it. Once we got to the top we had wonderful views of Fruita and the campground below.
Once you get to the top, you go left into the canyon. You’re pretty much just following a wash the whole way and you might find some little side slot canyons. Eventually, you’ll come to a slick rock area that you go up and over.
When you do get to this, stay towards the left. Shortly after this, you can either continue straight towards Grand Wash and the Hickman Bridge parking area or you can go up to the North Fruita Overlook which is what we did.
After branching off the main trail, it isn’t too far before you get to the overlook and another fork to a different overlook. We skipped that one. I did love the North Fruita Overlook a lot though. You can see the Hickman Bridge trail, the campground, the river trail, and the road passing through the orchards.
The whole time it was pretty cloudy and thundering, which usually would really freak me out, but I loved it on this hike. Like, a lot. It felt moody but it kept the temperature a little cooler and it was just all good.
When we did thee hike it felt like peak wildflower blooming season so I was taking pictures of every flower bloom we passed. I got to see my first Claret Cup Cactus blooms which were fantastic! They’re the red cactus blooms in this post. I could have taken pictures of just those all day.
The scenery at the top of the canyon, by the Fruita Overlook felt like a totally different place. It was flat with prairie type grasses and white rock instead of the red below. This is definitely one of my favorite hikes in Capitol Reef now, along with Headquarters Canyon.
If you’re planning on visiting multiple parks (3 or more) on this trip or within the year, I would highly recommend getting a national park pass. It’s $80 but will pay for itself in about three trips to parks. It’s so worth it and I buy one every year! They’re also great for gifts for the park lovers in your life.
Where is Cohab Canyon?
Cohab Canyon is just across from the Gifford Store. If you’re on the front porch of the store looking across the street, there is a dirt parking lot (across from the barn) and that’s where you park.
From the parking lot, walk towards the campground along the road and you’ll find the trailhead on the left (the same side as the parking lot) heading up as a set of switchbacks.
How long is the Cohab Canyon hike?
It is 1.7 miles one way, so about 3.4 round trip. It has 440 feet of elevation gain and is a derate difficulty. I would plan 3-4, maybe even 5 depending on your speed, hours for this, especially if you go up to the overlooks.
What to bring on Cohab Canyon hike
Hat – You’ll definitely want a sun hat of some sort in the summer, at least if it’s sunny. It can get cool in the winter, so a warm hat would be good if you’re here then.
Lots of water – No matter the time of year you’ll want to bring lots of water to stay hydrated.
Sunscreen – Sunscreen is a must, especially on those hot and sunny days in the summer.
Hiking poles – If you have bad knees, these may be helpful for the hike back down on the switchbacks.
Where to stay near Capitol Reef
There are quite a few hotels in Torrey to choose from. We stayed in the Juniper Room at the bed and breakfast and I loved it! I will definitely stay there again. Hotels can easily fill up on weekends in the summer, so if there is somewhere specific you want to stay, I’d recommend booking in advance, especially for the bed and breakfast since it only has six rooms. Check prices here.
I would definitely recommend this hike if you’re looking for something a little tougher but not too strenuous with rewarding views that doesn’t take all day to finish. It’s also a lot less busy than other trails in Capitol Reef. I would say this is a great addition to a road trip itinerary and your Utah bucket list.
Have you hiked Cohab Canyon? What did you think of it? What is your favorite hike at Capitol Reef?