Capitol Reef's Waterpocket Fold, a 100-mile stretch of cliffs, domes, and other impressive rock features, was practically impenetrable to the Mormon pioneers of the late 1800s. One of the few natural passageways within the Waterpocket Fold was Muley Twist Canyon. It earned its name from its being so narrow and sinuous that it could "twist a mule." Today, hikers can still enjoy an adventurous day hike through the Upper or Lower Muley Twist Canyon without having to consider hauling pack animals and wagons full of supplies.
Starting from the Post Trailhead, a series of posts and cairns lead west and up across the Grand Gulch to an entryway into the canyon. From the canyon junction it's nearly 7 twisting and turning miles until the trail exits the canyon back into the open plain. While the canyon never gets to be as narrow as advertised, it does not lack for dramatic scenery. Massive rock overhangs, sheer cliffs, water-sculpted rock, colorful wildflowers and shady cottonwood trees provide new surprises around every corner.
After exiting the canyon there are still 5 miles to go to finish the hike. There's no shade on this portion of the loop. Carry plenty of water and wear adequate sun protection. Take your time and see how many different wildflowers you can identify on this stunning stretch of trail.
If you plan on spending the night in the canyon, be sure to pick up a free backcountry permit at the ranger station and inquire about good campsite locations. There are several nice spots along the way, although you'll have to carry in all your water. The waterpockets are an unreliable and infrequent source of water.
Note: Only use Burr Trail Road if conditions are suitable for driving. Contact the Escalante Interagency Visitor Center for current conditions (435.826.5499).