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Oak Creek Capitol Reef NP, UT
mini location map2017-09-03
7 by photographer avatarXiled1
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Oak Creek Capitol Reef NP, UT 
Oak Creek Capitol Reef NP, UT
Hiking avatar Sep 03 2017
Hiking8.00 Miles
Hiking8.00 Miles   6 Hrs      1.33 mph
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
The road in from Notom-Bullfrog road is passenger car passable until you reach the national park boundary but it gets rough from that point. I made it in to the top of the last hill in the Subaru Crosstrek, but it took advanced driving skills. Travel at your own risk cause there’s no cell service and it’s a long hike to the local farms. For the second day we did not see a single soul the entire hike or drive.

We parked at the top of the last hill where there were some impromptu parking spots. We hiked down to the end of the road and picked up the trail there. Drop directly down in the wash. There are lots of trails trying to take you up, over and around the wash, but the wash is the best route. Some scrambling through the wash and it ends in a short downclimb, maybe 8 ft and easy. This drops you into Oak Creek. It was dry down here, this time of year. Hike upstream and you will come to a road on the right and Oak Creek turns into a slot canyon. You can’t get all the way through, but you can explore up a bit. We didn’t get very far till we came to a huge muddy puddle. Typical slot canyon stuff, but we weren’t in the mood for the mud and turned back. Perhaps on the way out. We turned around and headed up the road on the right. Typical forest road hiking until you top out on the sandstone and come to a gate. Squeeze around the gate, but don’t fall off, you are looking over the slot at this point. The road continues and turns into deep sand with large rocks. Its pretty crappy hiking this section, your best bet is to hop along the rocks. Works well if you have poles. Push through this section, the road descends down and you come to a drainage. Left looks like slot canyon access but its not. Cross the drainage and continue on. At this point the amount of cattle in this area becomes obvious with cow pies and hoof damage everywhere. Not sure if this is old or if the ranchers have a preexisting claim pre-dating the national park. Soon you will see the dam holding up the creek and the aqueduct diverting the water from the stream. Curious to consider whether this was a pour-off damned up or if the silt built up behind it over the years. The road ends at the damn and there is a coral and forest road coming in from the other side. It’s my opinion that this trail is heavily used for horseback riding tours starting on the park side. I think the coral and road are used by the outfitters to pick up or drop off. The entire route shows the effect of the horses and their large hoofprints. This was somewhat unexpected for a national park. There also seemed to be some cow prints as well.

Never the less, it’s still beautiful and worth the effort. Again this end of the trail starts in high rocks and the walls extend high above you. The walls here are white sandstone and rolling peaks. Keep an eye out on the right for Oak Creek Point off in the distance. As you hike further, the walls are lower and turn to red sandstone. Greenery starts to sneak in and you come across a large alcove on the right. Continuing on, the canyon opens up and large sand benches offer more typical hiking terrain if desired. The canyon continues to open further with large swaths of bench on both sides. We made it 3-4 miles in before turning around. We never found the way to the arch mentioned in guidebooks but I think we just didn’t make it in far enough.

Side Hike. About ¼ mile or so upstream from the damn, a sandstone drainage comes down on creek right. You can follow this steeply up hill for quite a while and its pretty darn cool in there (IMO). There is bushwacking and scrambling. The mid day heat kept me from going as far as I wanted.
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