Lower Muley Twist Loop

Capitol Reef National Park

Escalante - Grand Staircase Area, Utah

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Lower Muley Twist Loop


  • Posts mark the way into the canyon.- Lower Muley Twist Loop
  • The vast landscape of Capitol Reef.- Lower Muley Twist Loop
  • It's hard to imagine the sheer size of the walls in Lower Muley Twist Canyon until you see it for yourself.- Lower Muley Twist Loop
  • A natural curio cabinet.- Lower Muley Twist Loop
  • Water-sculpted rock is a reminder that seasonal streams flow through the canyon.- Lower Muley Twist Loop
  • Some of the rock walls have zebra stripes.- Lower Muley Twist Loop
  • Purple pea flowers create a surprising parade of color.- Lower Muley Twist Loop
  • Hiking beneath behemoth walls.- Lower Muley Twist Loop
  • Curled, dried mud is all that remains from the last flash flood.- Lower Muley Twist Loop
  • Catch the flowering cactus display in the spring time.- Lower Muley Twist Loop
  • Occasional cottonwood trees offer much-welcomed shade to humans and animals alike.- Lower Muley Twist Loop
  • A few pockets of water remain for the thirstiest of animals.- Lower Muley Twist Loop
  • Claret cup cactus flowers stand out amid the drab desert colors.- Lower Muley Twist Loop
  • Hiking through the narrowest part of the canyon feels like being in a maze.- Lower Muley Twist Loop
  • The desert supports a wide range of flowering plants.- Lower Muley Twist Loop
  • The long, hot, return trail leads back to the parking area.- Lower Muley Twist Loop
  • - Lower Muley Twist Loop
Overview + Weather
Solitude. Scenic views.
Road to the trailhead can be difficult or impassable.
Escalante - Grand Staircase Area, UT
Pets allowed: 
Net Elevation Gain: 
1,500.00 ft (457.20 m)
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Spring, Fall
Suitable for:
Hiking, Horseback
Total Distance: 
15.00 mi (24.14 km)
Trail type: 
Trailhead Elevation: 
4,858.00 ft (1,480.72 m)
Current Local Weather:
Hike Description

Hike Description

Pro Contributor

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).

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(7 within a 30 mile radius)

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