Spring has come early to Southern Utah. And if you’re anything like us, you want to get out and play in it. So allow us to suggest one of our favorite hikes in Capitol Reef National Park – it’s guaranteed to cure your spring fever. It’s called Cassidy Arch, and it’s a good one.
To get to the Cassidy Arch trailhead take the Scenic Drive to the Grand Wash turnoff. Drive into the canyon until you reach the Cassidy Arch/Grand Wash joint trailhead. By the way, the Scenic Drive is the only part of Capitol Reef that has an entrance fee. It’s ten dollars per entering vehicle, but trust us, Cassidy Arch alone is worth the fee.
Cassidy Arch is moderately-strenuous trail that leads, as the name might suggest, to a arch on a high plateau. Starting from the trailhead, the first section is a fairly steep incline, climbing about 400 feet in elevation. Once the uphill battle is over, follow the cairns across the mesa until you find your self on top of the arch. Cassidy Arch isn’t the only cool thing you’ll get to see from the top, the whole expanse of the Waterpocket Fold stretches out before you from horizon to horizon.
You can return the way you came – and, good news, it’s all downhill. Or you can go the long way home, and take Frying Pan Trail which connects to Cohab Canyon, which then spits you out by the Gifford House. (Almost like you were destined to try the homemade ice-cream that they make.)
By the way, in case you were wondering, Cassidy Arch is named for the (in)famous outlaw Butch Cassidy. Butch did in fact frequent what is now Capitol Reef, often using the rugged terrain as a hideout. He even had a little cabin in the Grand Wash, so it’s entirely possible that he hiked up to Cassidy Arch at some point. Maybe when he had spring fever.