Capitol Reef is full of great hikes, all of them are great, but some are better than others (well, at least, in our opinion.) These three are off the beaten track, but well worth the effort. In order to get to these, you will need to drive south into the Waterpocket Fold – the southern part of Capitol Reef. An area much more wild and expansive than the main section of the park. If you want some adventure
Sheets Gulch – on your journey south, this is one of the first trails that you will find. (There are several trailheads that are actually outside of the park limits, and this is one of them.) Sheets Gulch begins as an easy walk in a dry riverbed. Soon, however, you will reach the slot canyon that makes this hike so endearing. The narrow canyon is manageable for most children, making Sheets Gulch a great family hike.
Mulley Twist – if you really want to experience all that the Waterpocket Fold region of Capitol Reef Has to offer, you need to hike Mulley Twist. There are two sections of this trail, an upper and lower. We prefer the lower part. Lower Mulley Twist is not a day hike, but if you don’t mind a few nights on the trail, (with the appropriate backcountry permit, of course) then you will really enjoy it. In addition to its own slot canyons, Lower Mulley Twist also gives you access to several other hikes – like Brimhall Bridges.
Red Canyon Trail – midway down the Notom Road, is the Cedar Mesa primitive campground. This is a perfect place to have a picnic, enjoy the presence of the Henry Mountains, or even stay a night. At one end of the campground is the trailhead for the Red Canyon Trail. This fairly short hike leads you to several amazing overlooks, and eventually into a rare (for this region) red sandstone canyon.
Anytime you are exploring the Waterpocket Fold, whether for a few hours or a few days, be sure to bring the right gear and plenty of water (it is the desert, after all.) Be cautious in the summer months as well, watch for signs of heat exhaustion.