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Having spent the morning exploring Cathedral Valley, we needed a short hike in the main section of Capitol Reef National Park after lunch. Two miles east of the visitor center, we parked in the lot for the Hickman Bridge trail head. From this lot, you can access the 2-mile round-trip hike to Hickman Bridge, as well as the 4.5-mile hike to Rim Overlook.
The Hickman Bridge Trail is a pretty popular one because it’s fairly short and moderate. Most of the elevation gain of 400 feet is in the beginning of the trail with stairs carved into the rock and switchbacks. There is no shade, and even in April, it was a thirsty climb.
The canyon views once you get to the midway point are great, with many unique rock formations in sight, like the Capitol Dome.
As the trail started dipping down, we came to a small double natural bridge named after a 19th century Fruita homesteader, Nels Johnson.
After the Nels Johnson Bridges, the trail climbed again, winding around the 133 foot span of the Hickman Natural Bridge.
The arch is the largest in the park and is named for Joe Hickman. Hickman, together with his brother in law, Ephraim Pectol, paved the way for Capitol Reef to become a National Park. The two men campaigned for the ‘Wayne Wonderland’ to be given protected status.
In 1924, Hickman, as a state legislator, succeeded in having the area set aside as a state park. After the dedication ceremony, Hickman petitioned the federal government to designate the Wayne Wonderland National Monument, but he was killed in a boating accident shortly afterwards.
Pectol took over and spent more than a decade working with the federal government, helping to survey the area. FDR created Capitol Reef National Monument in 1937. The monument was elevated to National Park status by Congress in 1971.
Capitol Reef posts:
Location: Wayne, Utah
Designation: National Park
Date designated or established: 12/18/1971
Date of my visit: 4/13/2017