Never Not The Right Season
It’s never the wrong season to go hiking! Winters in Southern Utah are (usually) pretty mild, with little to no snow for most of the season. So if you wear a jacket, you can pretty much hike any trail in Southern Utah. And for us, there is no better place to hike in the winter than Capitol Reef. Of course, there are a couple of tips to make the best of winter hiking. Canyon hikes can be too shady and have more snow and ice. So we generally recommend that you stick to the elevated trails – there’s a lot more sunshine. Here’s a handful of trails to get you started in our favorite national park during winter:
This is an easy trail, perfect for beginners, or families, and it’s one of the most popular hikes in the park. There are some mild inclines over the course of the two-mile hike, but nothing extreme. The trail has very few shady spots, which means that there shouldn’t be a lot of ice accumulation. It’s great exercise, and you get to walk under Hickman Bridge, which is a lot of fun.
Fremont River Trail
This one is a bit more challenging, but still very doable. (We’d call it moderate.) There is one steep incline at the beginning of the hike, which can sometimes have some snow accumulation. But the hike across the mesa to the canyon overlook is wonderfully sunny. And the view at the end is incredible. It’s the perfect way to spend any winter day.
This is one of the lesser known hikes in Capitol Reef, but it too is a lot of fun. Located on the Scenic Route toll road, the trail leads to the monolith nicknamed “Golden Throne.” The hike is moderately strenuous, with some steep inclines for most of the way, but there shouldn’t be too much snow or ice. There are lots of cool views overlooking a sandstone canyon and, of course, of Golden Throne.
Cassidy Arch is moderately-strenuous trail that leads, as the name might suggest, to a fantastic arch located 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 sandstone 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 Capitol Reef stretches out before you from horizon to horizon.
Fremont Gorge Overlook Trail
Not to be confused with the Fremont River Trail mentioned above. This hike is strenuous in parts, at the beginning and at the end, but we promise the view is worth the effort. When you get to the top you will be rewarded with a view unlike anything else in Capitol Reef. The geology of the Fremont Gorge is very different from the usual red and white sandstone formations. It will take your breath away. You’ll also want to bring a camera with you (something we at the Lodge recommend for every hike in Capitol Reef) and maybe a tripod.
Final Winter Hiking Tips
Obviously when hiking in the winter you should bring warmer clothes. But equally as important is plenty of water. (Don’t eat any snow, it’ll only make you thirstier.) Add some good hiking shoes, and you can hike in Southern Utah all winter long!