The Hickman Natural Bridge Delivers Stellar Scenery in Capitol Reef National Park

Last Updated on January 11, 2024 by foxintheforest

There are a lot of incredible things to see in Capitol Reef National Park, but the Hickman Natural Bridge has to be one of the classics. This easy, gentle hike takes you to a stunning viewpoint of a 133-foot natural red rock bridge in the heart of the park.

I’ve been traveling and hiking in Utah’s national parks for the better part of a decade. In fact, I used to be a freelance writer for the outdoors and I literally got paid to hike. Nowhere else will you find amazing, pro-level advice for visiting places like the Hickman Bridge. So if you’re ready to explore like a pro, not a tourist, then keep reading!

About this Guide to the Hickman Natural Bridge Trail

Inside this pro guide to the Hickman Natural Bridge hike you’ll find:

  • Practical info for visiting Capitol Reef National Park
  • A step-by-step guide for hiking to Hickman Bridge
  • Other things to do nearby
  • Additional Utah hiking resources
The stunning desert landscape of Capitol Reef National Park with a cloudy sky.

Practical info for Visiting Hickman Bridge

You’ll find the Hickman Natural Bridge Trail inside of the stunning Capitol Reef National Park. Although there are no manned gates, you need to pay a fee or display your Annual National Parks Pass to hike this hike.

Here’s a look at a few important facts before you go:

Distance: 1.7 miles round-trip (lollipop loop)
Elevation Gain: 416 feet
Estimated Time: 1 hour
Difficulty: Easy
Dog-friendly? NO. Dogs are not allowed on trails.
Red Tape: Inside of Capitol Reef National Park. $20 entry fee per vehicle or free with an America the Beautiful Annual Parks Pass

Pro Tip: As one of the top hikes in Capitol Reef, Hickman Bridge sees a lot of traffic. Opt to start your hike early or hike in the evening if you’re looking for solitude.

How Big is the Hickman Natural Bridge?

The Hickman Natural Bridge spans 133 feet – quite impressive! It’s a bridge instead of an arch because it connects two sides of a canyon.

The Hickman Natural Bridge Hike

The Hickman Natural Bridge hike is super straightforward. Park at the Hickman Natural Bridge Parking Area then simply head up the trail!

It’s worth it to check out the trail brochure – at the trailhead – before heading out so you can scope out a few interesting sites to see along the way.

You’ll wind your way up a few switchbacks to start – gaining most of the altitude in the first few minutes of the hike.

After the switchbacks, the terrain levels out substantially, although you’ll still be on an uphill grade. Overall, this is a really easy and mellow hike that’s perfect for learning how to hike in the desert and is super kid-friendly.

From here you can see various relics of the past from the ancient Fremont People – the area’s first known inhabitants. You’ll see a small pit house as well as an elevated granary in the distance.

There’s also a much smaller natural bridge that you can walk around and under on the way up.

Eventually, you’ll reach the bridge, but there is an additional loop that will grant you gorgeous views of the park from above.

A view of the stunning natural stone arch that is Hickman Natural Bridge and that can be seen during the hike.

How Hard is the Hickman Bridge Trail?

The Hickman Bridge Trail is exceptionally easy by desert standards. There is plenty of signage and it’s well-maintained throughout.

Can You Walk Across the Hickman Bridge?

No. You’re not allowed to walk across the Hickman Natural Bridge. However, if you do want to walk across a desert rock formation, you should certainly check out the Cassidy Arch Trail nearby.

Things to Do Nearby

There’s a lot to do in Capitol Reef National Park. A few things to do nearby include:

  • Drive the scenic Highway 24
  • Visit Panorama Point
  • Check out the historic old town of Fruita
  • Stop at the Petroglyphs
View of a road going through the stunning desert landscape of Capitol Reef National Park in Utah.

Additional Expert Utah Hiking Resources

Looking to explore southern Utah like a pro, not a tourist? Here’s a look at a few curated resources just for you.

Picture of Meg Atteberry
Meg Atteberry

Meg is a long-time Colorado local and outdoor industry professional. She's spent the last 15 years hiking, climbing, mountaineering, and canyoneering all over Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and Nevada in search of the best views. She's written for Outside Magazine, REI, Backpacker Magazine, and appeared on the Weather Channel.

Hi There!

Meg Atteberry standing on a mountain sticking her tongue out

Meg aka Fox is a 30-something who's born to explore. Toddler mom, queer, and neuro-spicy her favorite things to do are climb in the alpine and camp in the desert. Her mission is to get you out on your greatest adventure.