Capitol Reef National Park: Stegosaur Loop

This challenging 6.3-mile lasso loop takes an off-trail tour of The Stegosaur, a massive sandstone fin in Capitol Reef National Park.

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Start this hike along the popular Hickman Bridge Trail, which leads east to a switchback climb up sandstone. At the top of the switchbacks, the route follows Rim Overlook Trail-Navajo Knobs Trail to the right, leaving the crowds that turn left to visit Hickman Bridge, a natural rock arch. After .8 mile, the path passes an overlook above Hickman Bridge and continues to wind westward.
At mile 2, peer down 1,000-foot-high cliffs to views of the Waterpocket Fold from the Rim Overlook, and then turn right and hike north. Less that half a mile later, scramble up a gully and navigate cliff bands to reach The Stegosaur—a towering sandstone fin. Soak in views of jaw-dropping canyons from this prime vantage point before retracing your steps to the trailhead.
-Mapped by Steve Howe

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 5.9



Location: 38.2887153625488, -111.227615356445

Follow Hickman Bridge Trail to the east along the Fremont River. In .1 mile, switchback up sandstone. Don’t forget: Pack lots of water, there’s no place to fill reservoirs along the trail.


Location: 38.2893981933594, -111.226448059082

Turn hard right @ 3-way onto Rim Overlook Trail-Navajo Knobs Trail. Crowds thin out after this point. Optional: Stay straight @ 3-way for neck-craning views beneath Hickman Natural Bridge, a 125-foot red sandstone arch; return to Waypoint 2


Location: 38.2917518615723, -111.232231140137

From this overlook, peer down onto the bustling scene of hikers around Hickman Natural Bridge; head north.


Location: 38.2911987304688, -111.249183654785

Rim Overlook: Peer down 1,000-foot-high cliffs to views of the orchards, the Henry Mountains, and the Waterpocket Fold. Trail turns right (north) and continues up rock ramps.


Location: 38.2944984436035, -111.249565124512

Cross wash, then bear right; side canyon enters on left. Continue north up sandy wash (avoid user trail). Look up to the right to find easy route through cliffs within 350 yards.


Location: 38.2953681945801, -111.249298095703

Turn right, heading southeast toward cliff bands (Important: This is the only route through the cliffs). Scramble up gully, then look carefully for easiest route east. In 200 feet, turn left, heading northeast.


Location: 38.2966079711914, -111.247009277344

Descend the rib to the north. Stay low (west) on slickrock, avoiding timbered pocket and cryptobiotic soils.


Location: 38.3020515441894, -111.245651245117

Grab lunch overlooking jaw-dropping canyons to the north and northeast. Next, turn around and hike south along the east edge of Stegosaur.


Location: 38.3000679016113, -111.244201660156

Bear right (south). Follow easiest visible route across rock slabs on the east side of Stegosaur; pass blood red pockets of iron-stained rock.


Location: 38.2980346679688, -111.243919372559

Continue heading south. Shallow slickrock occasionally holds rainwater, but don’t count on it.


Location: 38.297550201416, -111.243896484375

Begin a southwest traverse @ slickrock saddle. Stay above and east of timbered hollow and cryptobiotic soils.


Location: 38.2966156005859, -111.24494934082

Traverse a broad, stone plateau (expansive vistas extend in every direction). Work west, descending to Waypoint 6 and return to trailhead.

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