Chimney Rock & Hickman Bridge

For Martin Luther King Jr. Day Weekend in January, we went back down to Torrey to visit the in-laws.  While there, Jessica and I were able to hike the Chimney Rock Loop followed by a short hike to the Hickman Bridge Loop in Capitol Reef National Park.

Monday - January 16, 2017

We set off just after breakfast and drove down the road from Torrey down to the Chimney Rock trailhead in the Park.  This hike would mark my third time using this trailhead.  The first was a solo backpacking trip I did through Capitol Reef a couple years ago and the second was a hike up into Chimney Canyon and down Spring Canyon with Jessica last year.  For both of us, this would be the first time we'd hike the Chimney Rock Trail Loop full circle.  Weather was cold and breezy but not unbearable starting out.  Once we got going, we quickly began to warm up.

Chimney Rock Trailhead

We opted to take a right at the start of the loop and go up the Chimney Rock overlook and then go counter-clockwise around the loop.  From the top we were surprised to find that our car remained the only car down at the trailhead.  For a holiday with clear skies, and on a free access weekend for the National Parks, I would have expected a few more people on the trail with us.  Nope, we'd see nobody for the duration of this hike.

Chimney Rock in shadow

Chimney Rock with a little more light

Looking east toward Chimney Canyon

Chimney Rock Overlook

Chimney Rock Overlook Panorama

From Chimney Rock traversed across the top of Mummy Cliffs, enjoying the views out the south and down toward Fruita.  We'd also enjoy views to the east down to the mouth of Chimney Canyon as we circled toward it.

Looking down from the top of Mummy Cliff

Capitol Reef Panorama

Along the Chimney Rock Loop

Looking down toward Fruita.  The 'Castle' can also be seen if you look close.

Highway 24 below Mummy Cliff

Heading toward Chimney Canyon

Looking down the Chimney Rock Loop Trail

Getting closer to Chimney Canyon

Along the southeast corner of the loop stands a landmark that has no name as far as I can tell.  So we tried to come up with a name for it, but couldn't quite settle on one that fit quite right.  We'll keep thinking it over.

An interesting landmark with no official name

From the unnamed landmark we quickly descended down into the mouth of Chimney Canyon.  From there, we closed the loop by taking the Chimney Canyon trail back to the west and back down to the car at the trailhead.

At the mouth of Chimney Canyon

Descending back down to the trailhead

Once back at the trailhead, we jumped in the car and made the quick drive a few minutes down the road through Fruita and down to the Hickman Bridge Trailhead. This time, we'd encounter a few cars, but still plenty of spots to park.  Hickman Bridge, like Chimney Rock, is usually one of the most popular hikes in Capitol Reef.  It's short, but offers a lot of diverse scenery along the way including the Fremont River, views of Capitol Dome, Pectol's Pyramid, a hike through a somewhat narrow canyon, and of course the natural bridge that is Hickman Bridge at the end.

Fremont River at the Hickman Bridge Trailhead

Looking south from Hickman Bridge trail with Pectol's Pyramid to the left

The views to the south were neat in being able to see some snow still lingering on the north facing buttes and pinnacles, including Fern's Nipple, rising from the Waterpocket Fold that makes up most of Capitol Reef's geology.

Unnamed landmark (left) and Fern's Nipple (right)

Fern's Nipple

Unnamed landmark

Approaching the back (west) side of Hickman Bridge

Looking back down toward Pectol's Pyramid

Pectol's Pyramid

There was an unnamed landmark out to the south that I was particularly impressed with and kept turn back to view.  With the snow, it reminded me of pictures I'd seen of Chile's Torres Del Paine, the world famous iconic pinnacles in South America's Patagonia region.

When the pinnacles of Capitol Reef look like the pinnacles of Patagonia

At last we arrived at Hickman Bridge.  We had chosen to take the little loop trail that runs through it in a clockwise direction this time.

The backside of Hickman Bridge

One popular picture to take of it is with Capitol Dome framed within it out to the east.

Capitol Dome framed within Hickman Bridge

While at Hickman Bridge, we sat down for a hot lunch.  We would have had it all to ourselves if not for a group of others that were intent on taking the time to find their way up to the top of the bridge and echoing back to each other.  By the time we were finished with lunch, they had finally left though, so we were able to enjoy a few moments of peace and quiet.


Unfortunately, time was moving on and so it was time for us to move on back as well.

Leaving Hickman Bridge

Looking back up at the front (east) side of Hickman Bridge

Another look back at Hickman Bridge

Along the way back, I had to take some shots of Jessica with the landmark named after her great great grandfather, Pectol's Pyramid.

Pectol's Pyramid and Pectol's great, great granddaughter (Jessica)

Pectol's Pyramid and Pectol's great, great granddaughter (Jessica)

Back at the car, we loaded up and made our way back to up to Torrey to pick up the kids and return home.  It was a great weekend.

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