Capitol Reef: Capitol Gorge to Pleasant Creek

A 12.47-mile cross country backpack in Capitol Reef National park, going from Capitol Gorge to Pleasant Creek. You'll need advanced orienteering skills because this entirely cross country route wanders over slickrock bowls and passes atop the Waterpocket Fold.
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A 12.47-mile cross country backpack in Capitol Reef National park, going from Capitol Gorge to Pleasant Creek. You'll need advanced orienteering skills because this entirely cross country route wanders over slickrock bowls and passes atop the Waterpocket Fold.

This hike is accessed from the southern end of Capitol Reef's scenic drive. The shuttle is exactly five miles, and easily mountain-bikable. Leave a shuttle vehicle at your ending trailhead, next to the old corral at Pleasant Creek. Then backtrack and start from the signed Capitol Gorge trailhead. Standard sedans can reach both trailheads in most weather.

Hike through Capitol Gorge, keeping an eye our for Fremont rock art and historic 'cowboyglyphs' on the canyon's left/north wall. Exiting the reef to the east, turn south at the rusted, ruined truck on the park's eastern boundary. Climb southwest onto rounded, badland ridges and look for the critical canyon crossing (SBT 005) that leads to the sandstone heights atop the Waterpocket Fold, where you can probably find multiple potholes containing water (see 'pool' and 'pothole' waypoints).

Hike south following the line of least resistance across broad bowls and low slickrock passes. Then descend a polished rock canyon to the southeast, where you'lll intersect an old irrigation ditch which leads you to the flowing water of Pleasant Creek. Follow the creek upstream until it exits the reef and soon arrives at your trailhead.

Navigation Note: Most Southern Utah maps are NAD27 datum.

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 20.1

Waypoints

SBT 001: 0.00 Mi CAPITOL GORGE TRAILHEAD

Location: 38.209466, -111.168575

30-JAN-09 1:03:55PM

SBT 002: 0.85 JCT w/ TANKS TRAIL

Location: 38.214193, -111.156265

24-JAN-09 12:09:09PM

SBT 003: 2.33 Mi OLD TRUCK

Location: 38.22289, -111.13782

24-JAN-09 1:16:35PM

SBT 004: 2.43 Mi CROSS FENCE AT SURVEY BENCHMARK

Location: 38.221887, -111.13823

30-JAN-09 2:14:02PM

SBT 005: 2.81 Mi DESCEND GULLY

Location: 38.218826, -111.141485

30-JAN-09 2:48:42PM

SBT 006: 3.51 Mi CROSS NECK ON RIDGELINE

Location: 38.211148, -111.147389

30-JAN-09 3:37:57PM

SBT 007: 4.16 Mi IMP WAYPOINT AND KILLER VIEWS OF REEF

Location: 38.205213, -111.152537

30-JAN-09 5:07:50PM

SBT 008: 4.7 Mi SLICKROCK EXPANSE BEGINS

Location: 38.199227, -111.156148

30-JAN-09 5:37:53PM

SBT 009: 5.33 Mi POTHOLES IN DRAINAGE BELOW

Location: 38.195842, -111.155804

SBT 010: 6.13 Mi EXCELLENT VIEWS TO HENRY MTNS

Location: 38.191569, -111.155907

31-JAN-09 10:34:16AM

SBT 011: 7.09 Mi POOLS

Location: 38.190815, -111.14904

31-JAN-09 12:24:35PM

SBT 012: 7.71 Mi POTHOLES

Location: 38.194165, -111.142617

31-JAN-09 1:06:06PM

SBT 013: 8.76 Mi IRRIGATION DITCH

Location: 38.192825, -111.130121

31-JAN-09 1:59:02PM

SBT 014: 9.63 Mi CROSS RINCON NECK

Location: 38.184965, -111.13829

31-JAN-09 2:35:24PM

SBT 015: 12.47 Mi END AT OLD CORRAL

Location: 38.183238, -111.179735

31-JAN-09 5:07:34PM

5.5 Mi MY BIVY

Location: 38.1965049, -111.1541399