From the Red Canyon Trail Parking Area, the trail follows an old road to the southwest up a very gentle slope, where the sandy soil supports somewhat monotonous vegetation. After just over half a mile, the trail tops a low ridge and turns to the northwest. From this high point, a good view back to the northeast includes Mt. Ellen, fronted by the Mancos Shale of Wildcat Mesa. The grade continues to be very modest as the old road goes up the ridge, leveling out at the top, where it turns to the southwest, and then back to the north. The huge amphitheater that is at the head of Red Canyon
looms to the west, while incised gullies fade off to the south in the Entrada Sandstone.
Further on, the trail, still following the roadbed, begins to descend moderately to the north and then a little more steeply when it swings to the west. At the bottom of the dugway, it directly crosses the Red Canyon
wash and ends where it re-enters the drainage at a big cottonwood tree. If you are continuing in the wash, this is a good place to note for the return trip; usually, it is marked by a cairn, as well.
See Red Canyon
for details regarding the trek up Red Canyon wash.
This content was contributed by author Rick Stinchfield. For a comprehensive hiking guide to Capitol Reef National Park and to see more by Rick, click here