Today is the last day of August, which means it will soon officially be autumn. Already the nights here in Southern Utah, have a little chill to them. This is good news for outdoor enthusiasts, because fall is the best season for hiking in Capitol Reef National Park – in our opinion, at least. Here is a list of hikes that we at the Lodge at Red River Ranch think are best done in the fall.
Mulley Twist (Upper and Lower) – Mulley Twist trail is located in the southern section of Capitol Reef, known as the Waterpocket Fold. The trails are divided by the Burr Trail Road, with both trailheads located just of the road. You can expect to see lots of arches, narrows, and vistas on these trails. (We personally like Lower Mulley Twist a little more.) Since both Upper and Lower Mulley Twist trails are located so far south, in a fairly low elevation, in the desert, you can imagine that they get pretty hot in the summer. Therefore, we suggest that you tackle these fantastic trail in the late fall.
Brimhall Bridges – The Brimhall Bridges Trail also located in the Waterpocket Fold, and is equally as hot as Mulley Twist. (You actually cross Lower Mulley Twist Trail to get to Brimhall Bridges.) From the trailhead you will descend several hundred feet to the canyon entrance. Once you enter the canyon, the trail will lead you right up to the double bridge formation. The most strenuous part of the hike will be the ascent back to the trail head, but the scenery is worth the effort.
Frying Pan Trail – As the name suggests, Frying Pan Trail is a scorcher in the summer months. It connects the famous Cassidy Arch trail with the Kohab Canyon trail – which will drop you off at the Gifford House, or the trailhead to Hickman Bridge, depending on which direction you walk. Frying Pan Trail covers about four-miles of central Capitol Reef, between the two highways. Although the trail is in the middle of the developed region of the park, it still feels like your in the middle-of-nowhere.
Golden Throne – The Golden Throne Trail is not very long, but it is steep. In the summer heat it can be hard hiking. But in the fall, where you can take your time without worrying about the sun getting hotter, it is a better experience. The trailhead begins in the Capitol Gorge Canyon, located on the scenic toll road of Capitol Reef. The Golden Throne Trail will take you to an overlook of the base of the Golden Throne – a huge monolith with a distinctive golden hue.
Lower Cathedral Valley Overlooks Route – This trail, located in the remote Cathedral District of Capitol Reef, offers stunning views of the Temples of the Sun and Moon. The trailhead is off of the Hartnet Road, the trail has some steep inclines, but is considered moderate. However, it is unmaintained, and can sometimes be difficult to follow. After looking at the view – and what a view! – complete the route to loop back to the trailhead. The whole deal is about 2.5 miles long.
Even when hiking in the cooler months of autumn, it is imperative to bring enough water for everyone in the hiking party. The official recommendation is one gallon per person per day. Also, as many of these trails are located in the more remote parts of Capitol Reef, go exploring with a friend, and if you are planning on camping in the backcountry, file the request paperwork at the Visitor’s Center.