Cassidy Arch

Round Trip Distance: 3.4 miles
Difficulty: Strenuous
Elevation: 5398 - 6036 feet
Cellphone: 0 bars
Time: 2 hrs. 30 mins.
Trailhead: Grand Wash
Fee: $7 individual, $15/vehicle
Attractions: Natural arch, scenic views

The Cassidy Arch trail is located in Capitol Reef National Park near Torrey, Utah. The trail begins at the Grand Wash trailhead and ascends steeply at first to the bench area above the canyon rim. From there it follows the rim on a moderately easy trail as it snakes around several side canyons before crossing an expanse of slickrock where it comes out above the arch. There are a couple of areas near the start of the trail where there is some exposure.

The Grand Wash trailhead provides a starting point for the Cassidy Arch trail as well as the Frying Pan and Grand Wash trails. The Cassidy Arch trail doesn't actually begin until just over a quarter mile into the Grand Wash.

At that point the Cassidy Arch trail begins its relatively steep climb up the canyon wall on the left side of the wash.

There are enough switchbacks and long up sloping sections of trail that it doesn't seem overly strenuous even though the trail rapidly gains altitude. The spectacular views alone are worth every bit of the effort.

This is one of the sections of exposure. As you can tell the trail is comfortably wide and you can't see down far enough to get too dizzy. We didn't take much notice of it until we read about it in the trail guide.

Much like the Golden Throne hike the trail follows the rim above the valley floor as it contours around each of the side canyons along the way. The constantly changing scenery as you hike first in one direction heading toward the back of each side canyon and then back out on the other side of the canyon helps make the trail thoroughly enjoyable.

The trail to Cassidy Arch branches off to the left about a half mile from the arch. This spot marks the beginning of the Frying Pan trail that stretches from here to Cohab Canyon.

After loosing just a little elevation the last stretch of the trail begins following a series of cairns as it climbs the slickrock to the area above the arch.

The arch gets its name from the outlaw Butch Cassidy who was known to use the area as one of his many hideouts. The Grand Wash was a popular route through the area in those days. It can be a little hard getting the arch to stand out in a picture from above with no sky in the background.

The panoramas of the surrounding cliffs of banded Cedar Mesa sandstone contrasted with the white knobs of Navajo sandstone are something to behold. What a beautiful landscape.

Hiking the Cassidy Arch trail in the early morning during the summer months puts more than half of the trail in the shade of the cliffs. That also leaves a lot of daylight when you are through to spend hiking some of the shorter or easier trails in the park.

The Cassidy Arch trail is probably one to put on your 'must do' list for your next visit to Capitol Reef National Park. The steep section at the beginning of the trail is so pretty it is more of a treat than a task. I suppose that if you aren't in the greatest of shape and it is a hot summer afternoon then it may seem otherwise. Any visit to the southwest, though, is a great reason to spend some time on the stepper to maintain a little bit of fitness so you can enjoy some of the many wonderful trails. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.