This day hike on the Under-the-Rim Trail is one of the best ways to find some solitude in Bryce Canyon National Park.
Hat Shop Trail Guide
MAP: Trails Illustrated
PERMITS: none (must pay National Park Entrance Fee)
DESIGNATION: Bryce Canyon National Park
BEST SEASONS: summer, spring, fall
DISTANCE: 4 miles round trip
ACCESS: paved roads to the trailhead
DIRECTIONS: Trailhead is at Bryce Point – road signs entering the Park show the way, and the point registers in Google Maps. The parking lot often fills up throughout the season, and Bryce Point is a regular stop on Bryce Canyon’s free shuttle bus route when in operation.
ROUTE: well maintained, signed junctions, but there is not a sign marking the so-called “hat shop.”
GUIDEBOOK: Moon Zion & Bryce
Elevation Profile and Stats
Here’s an elevation profile of the Under-the-Rim Trail to Hat Shop, beginning at Bryce Point. It’s an out-and-back hike.
- Bryce Point (trailhead, highest point): 8,309ft
- Lowest point: 7,322ft
- Gain / Loss: 1,436ft (stats from NPS)
Hat Shop Trail Map
Here’s a topo map featuring the section of the Under-the-Rim Trail that goes to Hat Shop from Bryce Point, aka the Hat Shop Trail.
First of all, it’s important to note that this is not exactly the most iconic hike in Bryce Canyon National Park. If you’re set on walking among Bryce’s classic hoodoos for a more classic experience, than you’re better off doing any of the following trails:
If, however, you’re looking with a more solitary experience to relish in Bryce’s wilderness qualities, then you’re in the right place. Though the distant views toward the Aquarius and Kaiparowits Plateaus are similar to those from Bryce’s other trails, the views themselves are spotlighted without the immediate distraction of the park’s signature rock formations.
The trail to Hat Shop is one of Bryce’s least-traveled day hikes, complete with great views and a point of interest as its destination. Its elevation gain of about 1,000 feet presents a solid workout within less mileage than the Riggs Spring Loop, a hike of similar character in the park.
The 2-mile descent is fairly straightforward. The initial trail from Bryce Point is shared with the Peekaboo Loop, which is a much more popular track. After only a quarter mile you’ll come to a junction – take the clearly marked fork to the right and leave the crowds behind.
The path traverses through the woods at a level rate for a short distance before dropping down a ridge. From the ridge, it then begins to work a contour that steadily descends around the head of Merrill Canyon, toward the next ridge to the south.
It’s along this next ridge that you’ll see the Hat Shop hoodoos, located off of the ridge’s south side. From here you can return the way you came to complete the day hike as described.
The Under-the-Rim Trail continues from the Hat Shop for more than 20 miles south to Rainbow Point, so you’ll sometimes see backpackers at the beginning or end of their mulit-day trips.
Formation of the Bryce Canyon Hoodoos through Erosion
The hoodoos seen at the end of this day hike are simply a tilted, exaggerated version of those seen in Bryce’s main amphitheater.
The way the hoodoos were created can be summed up easily by viewing the photo above. The so-called “hats” on top of the hoodoos are made of a stronger rock than the formation below. It’s still technically a sedimentary rock, but it’s harder in nature and called dolomite.
The harder rock protects the soft limestone below as forces of erosion (wind and water) work on the carving the landscape, and thus the hoodoos are formed.
My Trip Notes and Photos
I hiked the Under-the-Rim Trail to Hat Shop on the evening of October 16, 2020. I intentionally started late and took my time, making my way back to Bryce Point as the early stars were unveiled.
I saw only two other people, together within the first 10 minutes of the hike. Otherwise I had the trail all to myself.