Cassidy Arch – Capitol Reef NP

Distance3.71 mi
Elevation Gain768 ft
My Time1 hr 56 min
DifficultyModerate
Closest TownTorrey
Food NearbyPioneer Kitchen

Cassidy Arch

The hike to Cassidy Arch is a cross between two hikes in one. You start on Grand Wash before climbing the side of the canyon and ending at a stunning arch that you can see from above and below.

Getting Started

There are actually several ways to get to Cassidy Arch. You can come from the campground above, park on Utah-24 and take the Grand Wash hike towards the Arch, or you can park in the closer parking lot inside the park on the opposite end of the Grand Wash trailhead. This last approach is the one that I did so that is what I will focus on.

Starting from the Cassidy Parking lot you will have about a third of a mile walk down the Grand Wash trail until you see the Cassidy Arch trailhead.

The sign for Cassidy Arch sits on a rock tablet in the middle of the Grand Wash Trail.

Going Up?

As soon as you hit this trailhead you begin the steep ascent up the side of the canyon. This isn’t as hard as it sounds but it is far from easy. There are rock stairs cut into the canyon that makes it possible without any actual climbing. That’s the good news, the bad news is that you still have to climb 300 feet of elevation in just a third of a mile! The stairs do several small switchbacks up the rocks for that third of a mile.

The start of the Cassidy Arch trail with some visible rock steps on the trail leading up the canyon.

Once you clear the first third of a mile of steep steps the trail does flatten out a bit. That’s the good news. The bad news is that it will still be a consistent 10% incline for basically the next half mile. About one mile into the hike you will come around a small curve in the trail and Cassidy Arch will be visible from across the canyon. I actually really enjoyed this view as it showed the canyon in all of its glory!

Cassidy Arch fully visible from the cliffside across the canyon.  The arch is completely visible and looks like a giant wormhole in the side of the cliff.

The Top

After catching your breath from the initial stairs and getting that great view of the arch, its time to get up close and personal. There will be a couple more curves around the rim of the canyon before making it to the top of the slickrocks that lead to Cassidy Arch.

The top is really cool. The views of the surrounding canyon are spectacular and there is something cool about walking on top of giant cliffs of sandstone. It is important to keep track of which direction you are going. There are a couple of cairns on the top but I ended up having to use my AllTrails.com app to make sure as I was headed properly.

The views from the top of the sandstone on the way to Cassidy Arch.  The Canyon mouth opens up to reveal a green covered mountain in the distance.

The sandstone that you are walking on is actually really impressive as well. The large sections are a mix between red and white stone that is almost polished smooth from all of the footsteps that have walked across them. It reminded me a bit of the Painted Desert in a smaller and more touchable scale.

The red and white Sandstone rock formations on the way to Cassidy Arch.  These rocks are mostly smooth on top with large round shapes to them.

Cassidy Arch from Above.

The next stop is Cassidy Arch but only if you can find it! From the top of the rocks the Arch is actually kind of hard to see. The arch blends in with the rest of the rock and I walked past it to the edge of the cliff before I turned around and finally saw it.

It is actually a little scary because there is a huge drop down into the arch from the top. Around the side there are some repelling hooks bolted into the arch so you can actually go down into it. As a hefty hiker, I have yet to find a rope that I trust enough for that!

Cassidy Arch from above looking down.  The arch looks like a pretty solid bridge with a large drop off from the edge down into rock below the arch.

One nice thing about the arch from the top is that there are several different angles you can see it from as the top rock forms a bit of a semi-circle around the drop.

After spending some time at the arch it is time to head back down or continue exploring the top of the cliffs. I headed back and I can tell you, it was much easier going down the canyon wall than up it!

Video

Here is a video I made of the hike. Hopefully you enjoy the video and if so please subscribe to my YouTube channel. It is free and will give you updates every time a new video is available.

Elevation and Distance

If you don’t have the AllTrails app you might want to check it out, I really love mine. It records your progress and is a great way to search for hikes that are nearby and gives you difficulty measurements. According to AllTrails today’s hike was around 3.71 miles and had a total elevation gain of about 768 feet including undulations. That put the high point at around 5,998 feet. I was also moving for a total of 1 hours and 56 minutes.

Effort

This hike has a couple of different sections that have very different effort levels. The start is an easy hike through the riverbed of Grand Wash. Following that is a very steep up the side of the canyon. Then an easier flatter area about half way up the canyon. The a consistent uphill that takes you to the arch over some rocks. That first incline will really get the legs working so make sure you are prepared for some big steps.

Terrain

The trail starts with a pretty simple dirt path but quickly turns to walking up rocky steps for the first section of the canyon wall. As you get higher and higher you will start walking more an more over rock faces and slickrocks. I would strongly suggest a good pair of hiking shoes that have good grip to help with the rock walking.

Access

The Cassidy Arch trail can be accessed from either side of the of the Grand Wash Trail. The road to the main parking area is a moderate dirt road that you will not need high clearance for but it could help. The main parking area has room for about 15-20 cars and has a pit toilet available. Capitol Reef is part of the National Parks system and there is a $20 fee for private vehicles. An annual or lifetime pass is also accepted.

Wrapping up Cassidy Arch

Cassidy Arch was a great hike that I really enjoyed. It is a very popular hike and it gets very busy. I thought about it the night before and there were several people on the trail and the morning I hiked it there were several people as well.

Once you get past the initial climb up the canyon the hike gets pretty nice but that climb is rough. It is steep and I had to take several breaks but I’m glad I finished it. One of my favorite things I found in Utah was walking across the sandstone “slickrock” and there is plenty on this hike. I went early enough that I had the arch to myself for a few minutes and it was really enjoyable. This is a hike I would definitely do again given the chance.

I have added this hike and all of my hikes to the interactive map page you can find here. If you have any suggestions for hikes or comments feel free to email me at fatmanlittletrails@gmail.com. You can follow me on any of the below social media platforms. Happy Hiking!

3 thoughts on “Cassidy Arch – Capitol Reef NP”

    1. I loved Capitol Reef. It wasn’t as crowded as the Moab parks and it was beautiful. There was a river, an orchard and amazing rock formations. It was nothing like what I expected. If you get a chance to go back I highly recommend it!

  1. Always amazed at those beautiful flowers growing in such a barren landscape -appreciate that Mother Nature gives us treats like them. Looked like an awesome hike – Thanks

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