Hickman Bridge

Round Trip Distance: 2 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation: 5322 - 5696 feet
Cellphone: 0 bars
Time: 1 hrs. 30 mins.
Trailhead: Hickman Bridge
Fee: $7 individual, $15/vehicle
Attractions: Natural bridge, Fremont pithouse, granary, pictographs

The Hickman Bridge trail is located in Capitol Reef National Park near Torrey, Utah. The elevation change for this trail is about 400 feet. The steepest section of trail is probably the first quarter mile. There are rock steps that smooth out some of the roughest spots on the trail but for the most part you can count on the trail being primitive in nature. The trail is well worn and there are signs at the trail junctions making it fairly easy to find your way and avoid getting lost.

The Hickman Bridge trailhead sits right on the side of Highway 24 just east of the Capitol Reef Visitor Center. The Navajo Knobs, Rim Overlook and Cohan Canyon trails can all be accessed from the Hickman Bridge trailhead.

Hickman Bridge is a self guided nature trail. Trail guides are available at the trailhead for 50 cents. The guides are highly recommended to avoid missing some of the key points along the trail like the pithouse and granary, neither of which are very noticeable.

A rock wall protects hikers from falling into the Fremont River as it flows close to a cliff. Toward the end of summer when the flow of the river has slowed the water seems pretty tame. During the spring runoff or when thunderstorms are in the area the current could easily sweep someone away.

The trail gains the first 100 feet of elevation in quick fashion with several switchbacks that lead up the cliff above the river. Keep your eye out for bighorn sheep in the area. We spotted some across the highway while hiking the Cohan Canyon trail but they can also be seen from time to time in this area.

The remains of a Fremont Indian pithouse can be found just off the trail as it transitions from the sandstone cliff to the lava boulders.

Just under halfway to the bridge the Rim Overlook and Navajo Knobs trails branch off to the right.

At the trail marker #12 there is the remains of a small granary hidden away beneath the overhang on the north side of the trail. If you look closely at the surface to the right above the granary you can see some faint red painted hands pictographs. A pair of binoculars comes in real handy to see them well. In case you are wondering, images that are painted onto rock are called pictographs and ones that are etched or carved onto rock are called petroglyphs.

A small natural bridge occurs in the wash just past the granary.  If you are curious about what distinguishes a bridge from an arch, natural bridges are formed by the flow of water. Arches are formed when a weaker section of rock gives way leaving the harder or more durable layer above it

The trail forks again before getting to Hickman Bridge. The fork is the beginning of a loop that is made by hiking through the bridge and following the trail to the left after passing under the bridge and returning to the main trail at the start of the loop. Most people though probably forgo the loop and simply return the same way they came after spending some time taking in the views around the bridge.

The massive hulk of Pectol's Pyramid dominates the skyline across the canyon from the Hickman Bridge trailhead. The best view is undoubtedly on the return hike from the bridge.

The Hickman Bridge trail sees a lot of hikers. That is probably due to the close proximity of the trailhead to the highway. Even though the trail is within the national park there isn't an entrance fee. The only entrance fee is for the area past the Fruita campground on the Scenic Drive road. For those that are unaccustomed to hiking, especially where hills are involved, the trail might seem a little challenging. For everyone else, they will probably be spending so much time gawking at the scenery to notice. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.