Capitol Reef: Hickman Bridge Trail
Updated: Sep 10, 2022
This is a great trail for kids and adults
Hickman Bridge is amazing and you can walk and explore under and around
Moderate trail with a lot of rocky terrain
Fun to explore with a little cave area that can be accessed above and below
Beautiful views of the surrounding area
Easy to get to and dramatic hiking right at the trailhead
Hickman Bridge trail is located East of the Fremont Area of Capitol Reef and the parking area is on the North side of Highway 24. This is also parking for the much more difficult 9.4 mile Navajo Knobs Trail. Arrive early as parking is limited and plan on 1.5 to 2 hours to spend on the trail.
Hickman Bridge Trail is a little under two miles round trip and is rated Moderate by the National Park Service. The trail starts from the parking lot and passes along the Fremont River under and beside a cliff. Walk fast or rock will fall on your head. At least that is what the sign says. Thankfully, gravity did not win and we had a great day. From there the trail leaves the river and progresses up a steep climb out of the river valley via steps and other similar terrain. The total elevation gain is 400 feet.
The next section of the trail is on varied terrain of rock and sand and generally easy to navigate. Make sure you keep a lookout for the survey marker, placed in 1947, pictured. I almost tripped over it.
A little over halfway to the bridge there is a geologic feature that is great to play in and on. It was like a little cave or shelter that had skylights and the trail moved above and beyond. The kids enjoyed climbing all over the rock and it was a good place to rest and take a break.
The views along the trail are magnificent. You can see beautiful landscapes all along the Freemont River. On some trails, you just need to take a seat and soak in all of your surroundings. This is one such trail. If you focus on the trail and the outcome of Hickman Bridge you will miss most of the splendor the trail offers.
Bridges are shaped by flowing water. Hickman Bridge was created in the same manner. The bridge is 125 feet high and 133 feet long. The appeal of this trail is the ability to walk around under and through this large bridge. Additionally, you can view the bridge from a distance, which gives you more motivation to keep hiking. Standing under the bridge and looking up provides a unique realization of the expanse of the bridge and the weight of the rock above you.
We chose Hickman Bridge trail based on a recommendation from a friend. He shared with us that this was one of the best trails in Capitol Reef for kids. We were thankful for the recommendation. There is a lot of varied terrain so our brood was never tired or bored. I would recommend that any family could do this trail as it is short enough to carry younger ones and easy enough for 5+ year olds to hike most of the trail. Certainly the younger the child the more difficult. We found that a back pack carrier was really helpful for little ones on hikes when your kids were younger. Our carrier is no longer manufactured, so the hotlink will give you search results for carriers sold on Amazon. The trail has very little shade. Actually the trail has no shade. Be prepared for the heat and bring water, hats, cooling towels and ways to beat the heat. Wear plenty of sunscreen even in the morning.
If you have been to Hickman Bridge or are planning to go let us know. We would like to hear from you!