Navajo Knobs, Hickman Bridge Trailhead, Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

Navajo Knobs - 9.6 miles

Hickman Bridge Trailhead

View of the Castle and Whiskey Flat from the Navajo Knobs Trail

View of the Castle and Whiskey Flat from the Navajo Knobs Trail

Round-Trip Length: 9.6 miles
Start-End Elevation: 5,315' - 6,979' (6,979' max elevation)
Elevation Change: +1,664' net elevation gain (+2,543' total roundtrip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Moderate-Strenuous
Dogs Allowed: No
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: No
Related Trails:

Navajo Knobs - 9.6 Miles Round-Trip

The Navajo Knobs (6,979') are located 4.8 miles from Hickman Bridge Trailhead in Capitol Reef National Park. These sandstone knobs cap a high rim on the west side of the Waterpocket Fold with panoramic views across Spring Canyon, Whiskey Flat, Mummy Cliff, the Henry Mountains and Fruita Historic District.

Trail Map | Photo Gallery

The route veers off the Hickman Bridge Trail and follows cairn-marked slickrock slabs and rims up steep contours of the Waterpocket Fold. A striking collection of geologic features line the way, and high points yield rangy views that few other trails in Capitol Reef provide.

While net elevation gain is modest, subtle dips and undulations can be cumulatively taxing, especially in summer heat. Follow cairns closely; though well-marked, the trail is easy to lose and difficult to regain in this indistinguishable landscape:

The trail runs along the Fremont River before turning up to the Hickman Natural Bridge - Rim Overlook + Navajo Knobs split (.3 miles : 5,455').

The Rim Overlook Trail (variously referred to as the Navajo Knobs Trail) veers right and winds across grass and sandstone benches littered with black andecite + basalt boulders carried here by debris flows from mountains west of the park.

Hickman Natural Bridge soon comes into view as cairns lead up a long slickrock slab (1.3 miles : 6,075') all the way to Rim Overlook (2.3 miles : 6,408'). This is a great place to see the exaggerated tilt of the Waterpocket Fold, and turnaround point if not aiming for the knobs.

The trail soon veers off the rim across varied terrain to a ramp-like slab that deposits you on a long, west-facing rim (3.0 miles : 6,525'). It dips along this rim with exceptional views, then bends west to another steep, ramp-like section of open slickrock (3.8 miles : 6,325').

The trail reaches the base of the knobs (4.75 miles : 6,915'), where it wraps on a dirt path to a short scrambling route to the top of Navajo Knobs (4.8 miles : 6,979'). If not keen on this exposed scramble, you can still find comparable views with a little extra maneuvering around the base.

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Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • N38 17.326 W111 13.657 — 0.0 miles : Hickman Bridge Trailhead
  • N38 17.366 W111 13.589 — .3 miles : Hickman Bridge - Navajo Knobs Trail split
  • N38 17.488 W111 13.882 — .7 miles : Rise through grass and boulder slopes
  • N38 17.544 W111 14.170 — 1.3 miles : Begin long slickrock ramp near base of large domes
  • N38 17.503 W111 14.506 — 1.8 miles : Steady, mod-steep travel on open slickrock
  • N38 17.473 W111 14.958 — 2.3 miles : Rim Overlook (6,408')
  • N38 17.728 W111 15.111 — 2.8 miles : Varied terrain past Rim Overlook to slickrock ramp
  • N38 17.717 W111 15.303 — 3.0 miles : Drop onto rim and begin long dip on wide rim
  • N38 17.937 W111 15.305 — 3.3 miles : Open slickrock travel on rim
  • N38 18.319 W111 15.442 — 3.8 miles : Subtle dip on wide, slickrock rim with great views
  • N38 18.278 W111 15.844 — 4.3 miles : Mod-steep climb up slickrock ramp
  • N38 18.324 W111 16.197 — 4.75 miles : Rugged wrap under base of Knobs
  • N38 18.341 W111 16.195 — 4.8 miles : Navajo Knobs (6,979')

Worth Noting

  • Hickman Natural Bridge is a worthwhile detour that adds 1.3 miles (roundtrip) to the total distance.

Rules and Regulations

  • Dogs are not permitted on trails in Capitol Reef National Park.
  • Writing on rocks is strictly prohibited. Fines apply.

Directions to Trailhead

The Hickman Bridge Trailhead is located 1.8 miles east of the Capitol Reef National Park Visitor Center on Highway 24 (north side of road).

Contact Information

Capitol Reef National Park
16 Scenic Drive
Torrey, UT 84775

Trip Reports

There are no trip reports on this trail.


"First, very good description and these pictures really capture the hike well. We started late so rushed to reach the top, which was recently visited by sheep (you could tell by the poop!). Glad we rushed up because we were able to take our time on the way down in dusky light but still see all the cairns. This is an awesome hike and i recommend doing it late in the day for best lighting on the slickrock rims and across the waterpocket."
Gavin White  -  Salt Lake City  -  Date Posted: April 10, 2017


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