capital reef national park
Hiking

Hiking the Hickman Bridge Trail (Capitol Reef National Park)

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Hickman Bridge is a natural sandstone bridge that was carved by water many years ago.

This impressive bridge spans 133 feet and is named after an early advocate for the Capitol Reef area, Joseph Hickman.

If you only have time for one hike, hiking the Hickman Bridge trail is THE must-do hike in Capitol Reef.

Keep reading to find out more about the trail!

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hiking to hickman bridge in capitol reef national park, utah

Hiking to Hickman Bridge in Capitol Reef National Park, Utah!

Capitol Reef is a rarely mentioned National Park but I was very impressed by its scenery!

I traveled there back in October of 2018 while road-tripping to all the Utah National Parks.

This was the last National Park on the itinerary and I was exhausted by the end of two weeks of traveling, but this park did not disappoint at all!

The fall colors were so gorgeous!

This park literally combined 3 of my favorite things: fall colors, a desert view, and a blue sky.

Capitol Reef has several hikes but the Hickman Bridge Trail is probably the most well known trail in the park.

It’s a great family-friendly hike and it doesn’t take very long at all to get to the natural bridge.

red & yellow greenery in desert

Trail Stats:

  • Type: Out and back
  • Distance: 1.8 miles round trip
  • Difficulty: moderately easy
  • Elevation Gain: 400 feet
  • Time: 1-2 hours

What is a natural bridge?

You may be wondering what makes a natural bridge and how these are different than arches.

Apparently the criteria varies depending on who you ask, but the general consensus is:

Natural bridges are formed by water

Arches are made by other erosive processes (wind, lava flow, etc).

The Trailhead

Turn left when leaving the visitor center parking lot, then immediately turn right onto Highway 24 (UT 24).

The trailhead is located on Highway 24, 2 miles east of the visitor center. It will take you just about 5 minutes to get there.

The trailhead is well marked and has a parking lot with pit toilets.

There are brochures in a metal box located at the trailhead that describe 17 points of interest along the trail. Don’t forget to return the brochure when you’re done! (Or pay 50 cents to keep it!)

Also, don’t forget to stop and check out the petroglyphs on your way to or from the trailhead! You’ll see the signs and the parking lot on the left before you reach the Hickman Bridge trailhead.

These were actually super cool and surprisingly very high up on the rock face.

It took me a while to actually see the petroglyphs but once you notice them they will start to stand out.

yellow trees along river

The Trail to Hickman Bridge

The hike starts out next to the beautiful Fremont River. At about 0.3 miles, the trail will split.

As the sign says, keep left to remain on the trail the Hickman Bridge. Veering right will put you on the Navajo Knobs trail.

From this point on, to your right you will notice the geographic features of Waterpocket Fold, which is what Capitol Reef National Park is known for.

Waterpocket Fold is a 100-mile long buckle (fold) along the earth’s surface along a fault line.

desert trail; Hickman Bridge Trail

After hiking about 0.9 miles, you will reach Hickman Bridge.

At 125 feet above the trail, this thing is massive!

Make sure you have a wide-angle lens to get the best pictures.

The trail loops around the back of the bridge. You can head back the way you came.

hickman bridge

Tips for the Trail

  • Keep in mind there is minimal shade on this trail. You may want to wear sunscreen & bring a hat and water.
  • You may want to use some bring bug spray prior to hitting the trail.
  • Hiking boots aren’t exactly necessary but I definitely prefer them.

Last but not least…

Make sure to explore other areas of this often forgotten yet beautiful park!

Click here for a map of the Fruita area and more trails!

What’s you favorite trail in Capitol Reef? Let me know in the comments!

Want to see more awesome sites like this? Check out my post on 10 Cant-Miss Things to See on a Utah National Park Road Trip and also my posts on Zion, Bryce, and Arches!

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Hiking the Hickman Bridge Trail in Capitol Reef

hike to hickman bridge in capitol reef

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