Hiking the Navajo Knobs Trail is a great way to experience Capitol Reef National Park. It is a 9.5 mile roundtrip hike that is classified (Capitol Reef National Park Trail Map) as “strenuous”, but the climb to the 6980ft summit (and back) can be accomplished in less than a day.
The hike begins at the Fremont River. The Hickman Bridge Trailhead and the Rim Overlook Trail also start here. The Rim Overlook Trail and Navajo Knobs Trail split off from the Hickman Bridge Overlook Trail a short distance into the hike. A detour to the Hickman Bridge Overlook is worth the short amount of back tracking before continuing along the Navajo Knobs Trail.
It is approximately 2.5 miles to the Rim Overlook. From this point, you will find some unique photo opportunites and a different perspective of the domes, cliffs, canyons, and the distant Henry Mountians.
The trail up to the Rim Overlook split is well defined and easy hiking. The views from Rim Overlook are great. You will note the Visitor’s Center, the Scenic Highways, and the valley below. You also get a new perpective of the cliffs, domes, and notable landmarks (Castle) you may have viewed from far below. If you haven’t been consciously thinking of hydration along the trail, this is a great spot to stop and take in some fluids and nourishment.
After you pass Rim Overlook, the trail becomes more difficult to follow as some sections of the trail are on solid rock and are only traceable by rock cairns (stacked rock markers). As you continue past Rim Overlook, you may also notice a significant reduction of hikers on the trail to the Knobs, in fact, don’t be surprised to find yourself alone on the trail. Which brings up a good point, if you are hiking alone, be certain to advise someone (partner in climb, visitor’s center, ranger) of your expected return as cell phone coverage is extremely spotty at best.
Even if you don’t make it to the Knobs, this trail provides some of the most scenic views of Capitol Reef and beyond. The reward for reaching the top is a 360 degree panorama of the park.
Upon driving away from the trailhead, you will better appreciate the views from the Capitol Reef National Park Scenic Highway.
P.S. – Check weather conditions, bring plenty of water before you start…and enjoy the hike.