Chimney Rock Trail
[Capitol Reef National Park, Mar 27, 2022]
I had saved a short little trail for the morning of my departure. Chimney Rock Trail is on the west edge of the park right off Hwy 24. It’s just over 3 miles and it has only about 600 ft of elevation gain. Another gorgeous sunrise greeted me as I was leaving the hotel.
The trailhead was only 10 minutes from my hotel. Despite the early hour, there were a handful of cars in the parking lot.
The trail starts of flat at first and the unique thing was that Chimney Rock was visible already. I didn’t have to climb at all to get to see this erroded pillar of red sandstone.
The flat part didn’t last long and soon I was climbing until I reached a junction at the edge of the plateau. This was the start of the loop and I went right (counter-clockwise).
From there, the trail climbed some more until I reached the top of the plateau and was now staring at the Chimney Rock formation from above. The sunrise was starting to light up the valley below and the various layers of rock were all different colors. It was beautiful!
Once on the backside of the loop, I had a really great view of the Waterpocket Fold. And the cliff to my left had amaizng red and white layers.
I was close to coming back to the start of the loop when I noticed a turn off for a narrow canyon. I looked it up later and it turned out to be Spring Canyon. Chimney Rock provides access to the lower part of Spring Canyon, an 11-mile one-way route that follows the northern tributary of the Fremont River. You have to ford the river at the end and get a hiker shuttle to bring hyou back to Chimney Rock. Fording the river didn’t sound intimidating to me – I’ve done the Narrows, after all! I bookmarked it for next time but for now, it was time for me to complete the loop.
This was a fantastic way to finish my visit to Capitol Reef national park. This was the first national park I visited entirely on my own. Doing the strenuous Navajo Knobs on my own definitely helped me gain some confidence in that regard. And I actually left the park bookmarking things to do for my next visit. Here they are:
- Connect Cassidy Arch and Cohab Canyon via the Frying Pan trail; this would be a one-way trek and it would require a hiker shuttle
- Lower Spring Canyon from Chimney Rock, also a one-way route with a hiker shuttle
- Jeep excursion into the Needles section of the park