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Utah Hike of the Week: Upper Muley Twist Canyon in Capitol Reef National Park

Published September 29, 2016 4:57 pm
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Capital Reef is known for its isolated, awe-inspiring terrain, and there is no better example of the geology than hiking Upper Muley Twist, a canyon that cuts through the Waterpocket Fold, the 100-mile expanse of buckling terrain that is the major geologic feature in Capital Reef. Arches and sandstone formations resulting from erosion create plenty of picture worthy pauses.

Directions • The Upper Muley Twist Canyon road is located 1 mile west of the top of the Burr Trail Road switchbacks. According to the National Park Service, passenger cars can be driven about 0.3 mile in to the Upper Muley Twist Canyon trailhead. (GPS coordinates 37.858364, -111.038672) High-clearance vehicles can drive 2.9 miles up the canyon to the Strike Valley Overlook parking area. (GPS coordinates 37.881388, -111.04666)

From the Strike Valley Overlook parking area, the best way to do the looping hike is clockwise, walking up the wash then down the ridge. The hike is marked with cairns and signs, but can be tricky because there are some detours and forking washes. Stick to the washes that branch to the right to stay on the trail.

At the 1.7 mile mark, saddle arch, the first of several arches one will spot on the trail, looms above on the left. About 4 miles into the hike, the trail slims into some narrows. This section can be explored, but follow the cairns to the right to take the bypass toward the rim. Watch your steps on this bypass as well as the rim because there are ledges, but the views are worth the effort.

The rim is a good spot for lunch as the Henry Mountains provide the backdrop. Before continuing along the trail and the gradual descent back to the trailhead. The rim will provide not only long vistas, but will let you appreciate the geology and arches you saw from the canyon floor from a new perspective.

Find more trails in our Utah hikes database: http://local.sltrib.com/hiking

— Lya Wodraska

Destination: Upper Muley Twist Canyon from Strike Valley Overlook

Hiking time • 5 hours

Round-trip miles • 9.5 miles

Elevation gain • 1,197 feet

Difficulty • Moderate

Trail head restrooms • No

Dogs allowed • No

Bikes allowed • No

Fees • No






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