Lower Sulphur Creek | Capitol Reef

Hiking Lower Sulphur Creek - Capitol Reef Hiking Lower Sulphur Creek

Capitol Reef

Overview

RATING: Short Hike
MAPS: TWIN ROCKS, UT

Fri

Showers and thunderstorms likely after noon. Mostly sunny, with a high near 91. Northwest wind around 6 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%.

91 | 69

Sat

A chance of showers and thunderstorms after noon. Mostly sunny, with a high near 90. Chance of precipitation is 50%.

90 | 71

Sun

A chance of showers and thunderstorms after noon. Mostly sunny, with a high near 89.

89 | 69

Mon

A chance of showers and thunderstorms after noon. Mostly sunny, with a high near 89.

89 | 69

Tue

A chance of showers and thunderstorms after noon. Mostly sunny, with a high near 90.

90 | 68

View Full Weather Details
SEASON: Spring, Summer, Fall
GEAR: Standard Hiking Gear, Wading Shoes
WATER: Flowing whole way.
FLASHFLOOD: Moderate/High

Fri

Showers and thunderstorms likely after noon. Mostly sunny, with a high near 91. Northwest wind around 6 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%.

91 | 69

Sat

A chance of showers and thunderstorms after noon. Mostly sunny, with a high near 90. Chance of precipitation is 50%.

90 | 71

Sun

A chance of showers and thunderstorms after noon. Mostly sunny, with a high near 89.

89 | 69

Mon

A chance of showers and thunderstorms after noon. Mostly sunny, with a high near 89.

89 | 69

Tue

A chance of showers and thunderstorms after noon. Mostly sunny, with a high near 90.

90 | 68

View Full Weather Details
The Castle in the background during the hike.

The Castle in the background during the hike.

First, a recommendation; If you have the time and energy, I highly recommend doing the full Sulphur Creek hike over just the lower section described here. The lower section described here is excellent, but only gives a small taste of the even more exquisite full Sulphur Creek.

If time, energy, or motivation only allow for a short 1-2 hour outing, especially on a hot day, this is a hike I highly recommend! The hike, starting at the visitor center, meanders casually along the perennial flowing Sulphur Creek. Over only a short mile hike, one way, the trail meanders by a historic kiln, along a flowing stream, into a sinuous canyon and ends at a small falls and pool. On a hot day, the pool is an oasis tucked in the folds of Capitol Reef National Park. Pool depth changes with floods. It is generally not terribly deep, but enough to cool off in.

This hike, despite its short length, seems to be one our family often does, especially when introducing friends to the area. It makes a great short outing with many wonderful views and interesting things to see. The kids who have joined us on the hike have all found the stream a playground and spent countless hours poking and exploring its banks. A true gem.

Note: Visiting the kiln can usually be done with dry feet if you can find a spot to hop rocks across Sulphur Creek one time. Above the kiln, you are probably going to get your feet wet. Bring shoes you can wade in, and just get wet from the start. It is part of the fun! Except after heavy rains, the flow is generally quite low, ankle to mid-calf on most of my visits.
Looking upstream from the kiln in fall colors.

Looking upstream from the kiln in fall colors.

Getting There

The trail starts from the parking lot of the visitor center at Capitol Reef National Park. This is about 10 miles east of the town of Torrey on UT-24.

The Sulphur Creek pool and small falls.

The Sulphur Creek pool and small falls.

Route

To The Kiln (10 minutes)
From the visitor center, go around the north end of the building and head west. A social trail goes down to and crosses Sulphur Creek. Typically, well-placed stones allow for those with good rock hopping skills to keep their feet dry.

You can see the trail going up the other bank and up the small hill on the other side near the utility pole. If you follow the trail up the small hill, it goes to the old kiln without crossing Sulphur Creek again. It is just a few minutes from Sulphur Creek to the kiln (less than 1/4 of a mile)

If it is hot, and you intend to wade anyway, stay in the creek bottom and follow it up stream instead of taking the trail up the hill. You will crisscross the stream a few times. Keep an eye out on the right. The kiln is on the right just before Sulphur Creek enters a canyon with high walls on both sides.

From the NPS about the Kiln:

Burning limestone to make lime has occurred for thousands of years. Lime is used to make mortar and cement, and can be added to agricultural fields to reduce soil acidity. A thick whitewash of lime on the trunks of young fruit trees can prevent scalding, cracking, and rodent and insect damage.

This kiln was built around 1900 by Fruita residents. Inside the kiln, limestone was heated to 1,400F (760C) for two to three days, the allowed to cool. The resulting reactive quicklime was slaked (stabilized) by adding water.

The kiln was rehabilitated in 2015. Historic photographs guided the replacement of individual stones to their original locations. This kiln is a contributing feature of the Fruita Rural Historic District, and a testament to the craftsmanship, self-sufficiency, and cooperation of early settlers.

​Respect the past. Please do not climb on the kiln.

To Sulphur Creek Pool (10 to 15 minutes beyond the Kiln)
From the kiln, continue up Sulphur Creek. The canyon deepens as you continue up. About a half a mile upstream from the kiln is a small waterfall and the Sulphur Creek pool. A lovely place to hang out.

Return the same way.


Maps

Route / 1.91 miles / Elevation Range 5,387 - 5,502 ft.
Printable Maps:
Visitor Center

12S 477110mE 4238170mN

N38° 17' 29" W111° 15' 42"

Kiln

12S 476734mE 4238165mN

N38° 17' 29" W111° 15' 58"

Sulphur Creek Pool

12S 476219mE 4238059mN

N38° 17' 25" W111° 16' 19"

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