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The Navajo Knobs Hike In Capitol Reef National Park

The Navajo Knobs Hike in Capitol Reef National Park

For a moderate three to five hour outing in Capitol Reef National Park you would do well to choose the Navajo Knobs hike. Over the 9 miles round-trip, you gain and lose 1,500 feet.

In the book Hiking from Here to WOW by Kathy and Craig Copeland, they suggest that the Navajo knobs hike is one of the two must do hikes in Capitol Reef National Park.

Its 4.5 miles one way to the Navajo Knobs
Its 4.5 miles one way to the Navajo Knobs

Details of the hike

The hike starts by the Fremont River. It follows the same trail as the hike to Hickman Bridge for the first 0.3 miles. Don’t be put off by the crowds. 

There’s also a warning sign that might scare some people. It says something to the effect – No stopping. Beware of falling rocks. It’s a short section and the bottom line is – don’t linger!

After you pass the trail intersection to Hickman Bridge the crowds thin – and become close to non-existent, even in high season.

Lovely, mostly easy walking along the trail to the Navajo Knobs
Lovely, mostly easy walking along the trail to the Navajo Knobs
Volcanic boulders strewn around the landscape at the start of the hike
Volcanic boulders strewn around the landscape at the start of the hike

About a mile up the trail you get a fabulous view of Hickman Bridge from above. People look puny in this landscape.

Hickman Bridge from above on the Navajo Knobs hike
Hickman Bridge from above

The grade of the trail is never steep. In fact most of it is a gentle slope with some of it on lovely slabs of sandstone – the closest thing to a natural ramp that I’ve hiked. Views are superlative, every step of the way.

Distinctive peak - the Pectols Pyramid
Distinctive peak – the Pectols Pyramid
Western scrub jay seen on the Navajo Knobs hike
Western scrub jay
Looking down towards the road through the park
Looking down towards the road through the park
Interesting topography seen from the Navajo Knobs Trail
Interesting topography seen from the Navajo Knobs Trail
Part of the Navajo Knobs trail is on a ramp of sandstone
Part of the Navajo Knobs trail is on a ramp of sandstone
Dramatic scenery looking back
Dramatic scenery looking back
Erosion at work
Erosion at work
Wild rock formations on the Navajo Knobs hike
Wild rock formations
Red path to the Navajo Knobs
Red path to the Navajo Knobs
The last bit of the hike to the knobs
The last bit of the hike to the knobs
We only see another half dozen people on the Navajo Knobs hike
We only see another half dozen people on the Navajo Knobs hike

Great views of the Waterpocket Fold

This trail provides one of the best views of the Waterpocket Fold, a defining feature of Capitol Reef National Park. But you really need to go the top to get the full view.

The last five minutes of the hike is a little airy and requires a very minor amount of boulder scrambling. Our friend Ted who loathes heights, did it and was happy he’d made the effort, though I think he was even happier to be down.

The view from the top - looking down on the Capitol Reef Visitor Centre
The view from the top – looking down on the Capitol Reef Visitor Centre
Another view from the Navajo Knobs
Another view from the Navajo Knobs
John and Ted descending from the top of the Navajo Knobs
John and Ted descending from the top of the Navajo Knobs
Different perspective - near the bottom of the Navajo Knobs
Different perspective – near the bottom of the Navajo Knobs

Go prepared for hot, dry conditions

There isn’t much in the way of shade on the Navajo Knobs hike and the only water you’ll find is at the river at the start of the trail. Be sure to carry several litres of water – more on hot days and don’t forget the sun hat and sunscreen either.

Finishing the Navajo Knobs hike with a foot soak
Finishing the Navajo Knobs hike with a foot soak

Of the four hikes we did in Capitol Reef, the Navajo Knobs hike was definitely my favourite.

For more information about Capitol Reef National Park visit their website.

Further reading on hiking in Utah

Click on the photo to bookmark to your Pinterest boards.

The Navajo Knobs hike in Capitol Reef National Park

 

Leigh McAdam

Leigh McAdam is a Calgary based writer, author, photographer and social media enthusiast with over 61,000 followers. Her blog: HikeBikeTravel is frequently cited as one of the top travel and outdoor adventure blogs in Canada.

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
Co-author of 125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta

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