Hiking in Capitol Reef: Easy Trails!

I absolutely adore short, easy hiking trails. I feel like they offer more bang for your buck, as you can pack a ton of them into one day and see a bunch of diverse scenery. Definitely a good way to go if you don’t have much time to spend in the park! These trails are great if you are a less experienced hiker, pressed for time, or just want something quick to do to fill up some time after finishing a longer hike. There are 4 easy hikes listed on the park trail guide, and of those, we did 3: Sunset Point, Goosenecks, and Capitol Gorge.

Up first: Sunset Point. Just under a mile roundtrip, and less than 50 feet elevation gain.

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This trail offered beautiful panoramic views, and as the name suggests, was a lovely place to watch the sunset.

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Up next: Goosenecks. This trail starts in the same parking lot as Sunset Point, is 0.2 miles roundtrip, and also has less than 50 feet elevation gain.

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The canyon views are incredible!! If you do no other trails in the park, at least do these two. They are ridiculously short and easy, and lead to amazing views. Not bad for less than 1 mile combined total distance for the two trails.

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And finally: Capitol Gorge. About 2 miles roundtrip, 80 feet elevation gain. Capitol Gorge leads to some petroglyphs, historic inscriptions left behind by pioneers, and water “tanks.” This trail is a bit of a trek to get to, as you have to drive through the gorge to get to the trail head (as discussed in my post on the petroglyphs). Use caution before proceeding through the gorge! Flash floods are dangerous and can be deadly.

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The hike leads through Capitol Gorge, and offers about zero shade. The majority of the trail is completely flat, and getting to the petroglyphs and Pioneer Register is totally easy (besides being in direct sunlight the entire time). In addition, just walking through the gorge is pretty cool.

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This is my sister desperately trying to cling to whatever shade we could find. It was seriously hot…be sure to bring tons of water with you!

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The entire 80 foot elevation gain for this hike happens when you head to the water “tanks.” As you hike through the gorge, a ways down you will see a sign on the left side pointing to a spur trail that leads to the tanks. You definitely need to be in reasonably good shape to do this part of the trail.

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At this point in the journey, the trail becomes more like bouldering/climbing than hiking.

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The water tanks! Basically just holes in the rock that collect rainwater for the animals to drink.

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It took us a bit of climbing around and exploring to actually find the tanks once we got up there, but they were pretty cool to see and had some frogs and stuff.

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Even though these hikes are easy, they all lead to really awesome destinations. You can see gorges, petroglyphs, pioneer history, geological formations, canyons, and panoramic views all in less than half a day, with very minimal effort. Sweet.

Author: Natalie Bates

LA-based freelance writer | Blogger | Craft beer drinker | Rock 'n roll girlfriend | Adventurer | Lover of tattoos, red lipstick, and popcorn | World traveler | Compassionate human | Photography enthusiast | Eco warrior | Celtic babe ❤️

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