Five years ago (2017), Hannah and I came to Capitol Reef and discovered the Cassidy Arch trail, named after, you guessed it, Paul Newman. Well, not exactly Paul but his character Butch Cassidy. On that no clouds 80F afternoon (90F in the sun), we found it challenging to climb up to the plateau above the arch. With that heat seared in my memory, I wonder if today’s also full sun hike will be too much for Owen (9) and Max (7); it will be our second hike of the day. Click here for that morning hike to the Hickman Bridge.
Though the 3.4 mile round trip hike with 700’ of elevation gain was a challenge then, Hannah and I agree with Molly and Tip that the boys are up for it.
Taking a windy rocky dirt road for a couple of miles from the visitor center, we find the parking lot at the Cassidy Arch trailhead without space for one more vehicle on a mid-April 2022 Wednesday. Molly lets us off with our fanny packs, camelbacks, and water bottles. With a smiling universe ever present, by the time we unpack, a parking spot opens up.
We hike three-tenths of a mile on the sandy bottom of the Grand Wash. Along the way, Owen scampers up the mountainside and says he wants to hide in one of the crannies in the wall to surprise his parents, who are just behind us. Hannah decides to stay with him as Max and I figure this is our opportunity to put some daylight between us and the others and get to the Cassidy Arch first.
The trail to the plateau above is a series of sandstone switchbacks. Thinking as long as Max is motivated to climb quickly above the others, I jump at the chance to keep moving and grooving before his energy flags.
Exaggerating (I think), Max says we must be a mile ahead of them. If that motivates him to keep going, I am all in. Clearly (I think), they are at most a few hundred yards behind us, if that.
Since this hike is rated as strenuous, there are far fewer people on the trail than the Hickman Bridge trail that we hiked earlier in the morning. Still seven-tenths of a mile away, Max and I spot the Cassidy Arch.
Looking back down the mountain, we just never see the other four. Max and I are keeping a steady pace. to the slick rock at 6000’ elevation.
Never seeing the others at any point, Max and I arrive at the Cassidy Arch. We chill and we wait and we wait some more. Seems odd that such an athletic foursome as Hannah, Molly, Tip, and Owen would be so far behind us.
Then twenty minutes after we arrive, Max says, I see them. They are still ten minutes away across the slick rock.
When they arrive at the Cassidy Arch, they have an admission to make. We got lost.
It seems that all four of them missed the trail sign that was 0.3 of a mile down the sandy Grand Wash. They walked an additional 0.6 of a mile before finally realizing this can’t be right. So by the time, they began to climb up from the wash, they had done an additional 1.2 miles. By the time, we return to the trailhead, Max and I will have hiked the 3.4 miles while the others 4.6 miles. At least they got more Fitbit steps than us.
And what do you know? Max was right all along that we were a mile ahead of them on the trail!
Time with just Max on the trail made the Cassidy Arch hike a blast. It was just as enjoyable as the morning hike to Hickman Bridge with Owen. These two hikes turned out to be my favorites of our six days in Utah, primarily thanks to Max this afternoon and Owen earlier this morning.