Slickrock Trail Near Capitol Reef

Boulder Mountain is a scenic “island in the desert” that borders the western boundary of Capitol Reef National Park and is accessed from the All-American Road, Scenic Byway 12 (the Boulder Mountain Highway). The fantastic slickrock wilderness of the park gradually ascends onto a flat piñon- and juniper-covered bench before climbing onto the summit of Boulder Top at more than 11,000 feet in elevation. The 25-mile Slickrock Trail (#120) follows the original wagon road that once connected Grover to Boulder Town.

The well-marked trail maintains a general elevation of about 7,600 feet but ascends and descends several drainages as it follows the base of the Navajo sandstone escarpment — the top of which is modern Highway 12 (a designated National Forest Scenic Byway rated as one of the ten most scenic drives in the United States). You hike across areas of slickrock Navajo sandstone, old-growth ponderosa pine, and piñon-juniper forests. Interesting geology along the trail includes black basalt boulders sitting in grand profusion on white sandstone.

There are numerous access points from Highway 12 to the Slickrock Trail. You could choose one of the Forest Service campgrounds along the highway — Oak Creek, Pleasant Creek, or Singletree, or the undeveloped campground at Lower Bowns Reservoir, 4 miles east of the highway on Forest Road 181—to use as a base camp to explore the Slickrock Trail. Or you can hike the entire trail north to south with a vehicle shuttle.

To access the north end of the trail, take Highway 12 southeast of Grover about 0.5 mile to its junction with Miners Mountain Road. Turn left (east) and drive 2 miles to the Slickrock Trail #120 trailhead. The first section of trail to Happy Valley is designated as shared use (off-road vehicles are allowed); from there to the Teasdale Ranger District boundary is horse and foot use only. For more information contact the Dixie National Forest.

Map: DeLorme: Utah Atlas & Gazetteer: Page 28 C1.