Hike of the week: Sulphur Creek in southern Utah
Published: August 10, 2012 12:25PM
Updated: August 9, 2012 10:04AM
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Erin Alberty | The Salt Lake Tribune A hiker prepares to scramble down a rock wall on the Sulphur Creek hike.

Directions • Sulphur Creek is a long but downhill hike with water and some shade — a great way to enjoy the otherwise sizzling Capitol Reef desert at the height of summer. There is some scrambling through waterfalls and craggy canyons. The trail begins across the street from the Chimney Rock parking lot and goes south-southeast through a bed of gravel. After about 1.25 miles, you meet up with Sulphur Creek. Follow the creek downstream as it winds through swirling rock, soaring cliffs and grottos carved around short waterfalls. The scrambling may intimidate total beginners, but I saw many small children finish the hike. The creek continues 5.75 miles or so to a dam behind the park visitors center. You will see footpaths leading from the creek to the front of the center.

Getting there • The Chimney Rock trailhead is about 3 miles west of the visitor’s center. You will need a shuttle to get back to the trailhead. Leave a car at the visitor’s center or beg for a ride from the parking lot when you finish the hike. You also might ask other hiking parties you meet. Either way, you should check with rangers before beginning the hike to learn about water levels in the creek, new obstacles left by flash flooding and weather forecasts for the day; there are many exit points, but a slickrock canyon is not a good place to be in heavy rains.

Destination Sulphur Creek

Hiking time 5 hours

Round trip miles 7.2 miles

Elevation loss 560 feet

Difficulty Moderate

Trail head restrooms Yes

Dogs allowed No

Bikes allowed N/A