I’m resurrecting the Hike of the Week posts. I will *try* to get one up every week…that will be a good challenge. Heh!
Let’s start off with one of the harder but more rewarding destinations in Capitol Reef–the Navajo Knobs. So called because a) they’re in the Navajo sandstone layer and b) they look like giant knobs, the Knobs are a 9.3-mile round trip hike with a 2,400-foot elevation gain. Yes, yikes. Trust me, though, it’s well worth it at the end! Bonus: if you go all the way to the Knobs, you’ll have actually done two hikes, since you pass Rim Overlook on the way.
How to do this hike:
1. Park at the Hickman Bridge trailhead and start uphill.
2. When the trail splits (signed), head north (right) to get on the Knobs trail.
3. Go up. And up. Then up some more. Take breaks, breathe, enjoy the views when you have them.
4. The hike consists of meandering switchbacks that provide blessed flat stretches, and long uphill climbs, mostly over sheer rock. (No, you aren’t in danger of falling off a cliff.) Just motor on!
5. Pull over at the signed Rim Overlook and take a gander (and breather) at the views. Then push on.
6. When you reach the actual knobs, the trail will wind up below (south) and then behind (east) them. To achieve the actual pinnacle involves some scrambling, which may be too much for the heights-averse. But if you do, the 360-degree views should astound.
You can see east to the Henry Mountains (and even to the Abajos if it’s clear enough), southwest to Boulder Mountain, northwest to Thousand Lake Mountain, and everywhere else. The horizon seems limitless, and the scope of Capitol Reef’s rugged beauty extensive.
7. Return the same way.
Tips on doing this hike:
1. If you think your knees will protest, hiking poles may be helpful.
2. Late fall, winter, and early spring are ideal times to hike the Knobs. The trail is exposed most of the way, meaning it can be unbearably hot in the summer while providing welcome sunshine in the cooler months.
3. No go if storms threaten! You’re too exposed to lightning danger.
4. If you decide to add in the Hickman Bridge trail, tack on another 1.6 miles to your hike.
Random facts about this hike:
1. Along the way you’ll encounter plenty of black boulders that seem to be air-pocked. These are volcanic rocks (andesite basalt), remnants of Boulder Mountain’s days as an active volcano.
2. Just barely up the trail from its start, there is a small offshoot with a sign that faces you south. You’ll be looking at Pectol’s Pyramid, named after local Torrey resident Ephraim P. Pectol. Pectol had a dream, and Capitol Reef is a partial result of his vision.