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A beautiful canyon housing three waterfalls and the famous Goosenecks - a series of picturesque narrows you can't miss!


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Map Key

5.8

Miles

9.3

KM

92%

Runnable

6,059' 1,847 m

High

5,497' 1,676 m

Low

515' 157 m

Up

1,063' 324 m

Down

5%

Avg Grade (3°)

33%

Max Grade (18°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features Geological Significance · River/Creek · Swimming · Views · Waterfall

Overview

The Sulphur Creek Route is a unique way for the adventurous hiker to explore Capitol Reef National Park. This point to point hike follows an unmaintained trail through a deep canyon, where you can expect to wade through flowing water, scramble up and down rock obstacles, and wander through chilly, shaded narrows for hours. Most hikers chose to shuttle cars or hitchhike to the starting trailhead.

Need to Know

Be sure to check the weather forecast before hiking this canyon. If there is rain forecasted, do not enter this canyon, as it can flash flood easily. Detailed information about this route can be found on the National Park Service website
nps.gov/care/planyourvisit/… and up to date water flow conditions from the Park Rangers at the Visitors Center.

Description

The route begins off of Highway 24, at the parking area across from Chimney Rock trailhead. Hiking behins as a pleasant 1.5-mile walk down easy-going, dry washes to Sulphur Creek, a perennial stream. On the approach to the fabled Goosenecks, a narrow section of slot canyon along the route, runners are often dissuaded by flowing water. However, do not fear! While the canyon constricts quickly into several sets of photogenic narrows and small falls, the running distance remains up to you. You can turn around at any point if you are not prepared for scrambling or swimming. This recommended route is for the full hike, from Highway 24 to the visitor center.

Conditions can change dramatically in this section with each flood, but some obstacles are always present. Bypassing the falls requires scrambling up and down ledges (usually on canyon right) that can sometimes be slick. After traversing the Goosenecks, the canyon widens for the last half mile to the visitor center, but some visitors turn around before this point unless they have a shuttle vehicle waiting for them. If you don't have a shuttle parked at the VC, the walk back on Highway 24 is a little more than three miles.

Sulphur Creek is a perennial stream, but its volume depends significantly on snowmelt and irrigation operations near the town of Torrey. The flow is often low enough that boots can be worn for much of the run unless recent flooding has developed pools in the narrows. Pools are common in the Spring as snowmelt increases the water volume through this canyon. The temptation is high in the summer to run in sandals or water shoes, but the three significant obstacles along the route are more safely negotiated with sturdier footwear.

The National Park Service cautions visitors to avoid fully submerging yourself or ingesting the water from Sulphur Creek, as it can sometimes be contaminated with the bacteria, E. coli.

Some of this content was contributed by author Rick Stinchfield. For a comprehensive running guide to Capitol Reef National Park and to see more by Rick, click here.

Contacts

Shared By:

Hunter R with improvements by Richard Rubicam and 1 other

Trail Ratings

  4.7 from 19 votes

#593

Overall
  4.7 from 19 votes
5 Star
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#49

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#593

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Photos

I find the boulder wedged in here adds to the interest.
Jan 14, 2020 near Loa, UT
What a fun place to be.
Jan 14, 2020 near Loa, UT
One of the falls.
Jan 14, 2020 near Loa, UT
This narrow section is located between the first and second falls. Unless the water levels are unusually low, you'll have to swim for about 100 ft to get through. We went through in mid March and the water was about 5.5 feet deep.
Mar 28, 2021 near Loa, UT
The first falls is beautiful. If you catch it on a warm day with the right water level, the pool is deep enough for jumping off the ledges.
Mar 28, 2021 near Loa, UT
Another view of the third waterfall.
Jan 14, 2020 near Loa, UT

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