This was the first hike of our 2009 Southwestern States Hiking Trip. The Upper Muley Twist loop trail follows a dry creek bed for a few miles, then quickly gains the top of the canyon, loops back part way above the creek bed, and then drops back down into the canyon, with a walk back to the parking lot in the same creek bed you walk up in. It's about 9 miles of hiking if you park at the upper parking lot, which requires a 4WD vehicle. Not much of one, though -- we had a rental Ford Escape and it did just fine. If we'd had water in the creek, more clearance might have been nice (smarter to go do something else in that case, I think). If you park at the lower parking lot, you add six more miles to the hike, but apparently you get to see more arches than you do if you're busy avoiding obstacles in the creek bed.
We were staying in Boulder, Utah, and took the Burr Trail Road, which joined highway 12 immediately outside the grounds of the Boulder Mountain Lodge (very nice place to stay if you're in the area!). The Burr Trail Road is paved until you get to Capitol Reef National Park; it comes in near the southern end of the park, and saves quite a drive if you're coming in from the Boulder/Escalante side of things.
The access road to Upper Muley Twist is well marked (on your left, about six miles after the road turns to gravel at the park boundary); if you get to the switchbacks on Burr Trail Road, you've gone too far by about a mile. The access road runs a couple hundred meters, and ends in a small parking lot with a register in it. The road keeps going, if you're brave enough, and drops immediately into a hopefully-dry creek bed. Our rental Ford Escape was more than capable of following this creek bed to the upper parking lot three miles further in.
We passed a 4x4 Suburban in the lower parking lot, and not long into the drive up the creek bed we passed its occupants. We asked if they wanted a ride, and they declined. I bet they saw all the arches we missed!
Once we got to the parking lot, we set off up the creek bed, keeping to the right at each 'Y' in the creek. We saw plenty of interesting arches and canyons that needed to be explored, passed the part of the loop (well signed) that could be used to attain the canyon wall if you did the loop the opposite way around from us. We proceeded up the canyon almost all the way to the back before encountering the "Rim Route" sign pointing up the wall of the canyon.
We picked our way along wide ledges, occasionally losing track of the many cairns (I think the cairns might be placed for hikers travelling the Rim Route the other way around, but I'm not sure), and eventually came out on top of the canyon wall. The view of the Waterpocket Fold on the other side was breathtaking! The photos do it no justice whatsoever.
We followed the ridge for what seemed a lot longer than it should have, then finally dropped back down into the canyon and retraced our footsteps back to the Escape. We drove down the creek bed without incident, and got half-way back to Boulder when the heavens opened up and we got a good drenching. It was a good thing we didn't get rain like that while we were still in the canyon!