It's almost the one-year anniversary of this blog! My first entry was about last year's trip down to Capital Reef National Park, so it's sort of appropriate that's where we headed this weekend -- we always seem to start the spring season down there. This weekend was equal parts wedding planning and hiking. Jordan and I are eloping in Capitol Reef in May, so we spent the first day meeting people, checking out the hotel and filling out permits. We spent the night in the campground, then busted out for a day hike up to Cassidy Arch.
The 7-mile loop hike out to Cassidy Arch is never that far from pavement, but you still feel like you're a world away from the historic orchards along the main highway. That's one of my favorite things about Capitol Reef -- there's so much variety. You can see 800-year-old rock art, eat homemade pie in a pioneer cabin, then see some of the most wildly colorful geology in Utah. This hike takes you up to the top of the Waterpocket Fold, and you're rewarded with a tangle of red and white canyons, arches, and spires.
There are a couple logistical details to take care of before you start hiking. We started the hike across from the Hickman Bridge trail and finished at the Grand Wash trailhead along highway 24. That means there's a 2-mile road walk between the start and the finish. You can either walk the road, drop off a shuttle car, or a hitch a ride. We got lucky and caught a ride with the first car that drove by. If you have a backpack and make a sign that says "Hickman Bridge Trail," most people will figure you're not too sketchy!
The hike starts with a 1,040 ft. climb along the Frying Pan trail up near the top of the Waterpocket Fold. The views are incredible. After around 3 miles you start dropping back down. Make sure to take the 0.4 mile detour out to Cassidy Arch, named after the outlaw Butch Cassidy who was thought to have occasionally use these canyons as a hideout. In the early afternoon light, the arch is huge, impressive, and easy to walk across -- it's thicker than it looks from the overlook!
After checking out Cassidy Arch, we continued the decent down into Grand Wash. To finish up the hike, stroll an easy 2.5 miles through a flat, sandy wash surrounded by towering cliff walls. Great hike.