Friday, April 17, 2009

Trail to Cassidy Arch in Capital Reef National Park, Utah

This was our favorite hike in Capital Reef National Park in part due to the strenuous nature of the hike (ascent of 1150 ft. in 1½ miles) but also because of the unique terrain on the top half near Cassidy Arch. The Cassidy Arch trail starts in the middle of the Grand Wash canyon at the end of maintained dirt road where you will find a parking area and pit toilets. Taking this dirt road from the Scenic Drive road into the canyon, you first pass a turn of the century uranium mine. It was interesting to learn from the information sign near the mine that back then, uranium was mixed with water and drank to cure arthritis…not sure that was a good practice. Continuing along the dirt road and heading further into the canyon, you’ll come to a turnout on the left for the Cassidy Arch viewpoint. This is a short trail that provides views looking up at Cassidy Arch and is much less work (and time) than hiking Cassidy Arch Trail.

The Cassidy Arch trail begins at the parking lot and follows the wash further into the Grand Wash canyon. After walking for about 4 minutes, you’ll see a sign to Cassidy Arch pointing the left. This is where the real hike starts. The trail immediately begins with very steep switch backs, ascending over stairs made out of rocks and very narrow rock ledges that follow the contour of the canyon wall.

This part of the hike was fun to walk, but did not have very interesting views. About ½ mile into the hike, you’ll start working your way further back into a side canyon and once you get away from the edge of the Grand Wash, the views open up and you start working you way up a sold rock sheet - some dirt, some vegetation, but quite open and expansive with much better views. This is actually the place where upward climbing ends, yet you have more horizontal hiking to get to the arch. There is almost no vegetation and the rocks are a beautiful red and cream colored.

At this point, to safely follow the trail, watch for cairns and follow their route. It’s about a ½ mile and you’ll see Cassidy Arch on your left – below where you are standing! Basically, where we were standing was on-par with the top of the arch – you need to look down into a large hole to see the opening of the arch.

For photo-ops and a very unique perspective you can walk across the top of the arch. (The picture below ~ that spot on top of the arch ~ us!) The easier way seemed to be to the right.

The area around the arch is a nice place to stop, enjoy lunch and chat with fellow hikers as you take one another’s pictures on top of the arch. This would be a definite hike to do when in Capitol Reef National Park; it took us 1 ½ hours to walk to the arch, then about 45 minutes to return, so 2 ¼ hours, including lunch and play on the arch.

1 comment:

Jerry and Suzy said...

Again, marvelous. We've been reading about you guys visiting Howard and Linda Payne at Arches. They are interesting people!

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