The Chimney Rock Trail in Capitol Reef National Park takes visitors to the top of a low mesa along the edge of the Waterpocket Fold and across the mesa’s loop trail at the top. The rock is a natural spire, eroded out of the side of the mesa, and stands 300 feet above the road. If hikers have sufficient time and daring, instead of following the loop trail back down the switchbacks on the northwest side of the mesa, they can enter Chimney Rock Canyon from the east end and drop down into Spring Canyon for a 10-mile canyon crawl. This route will require that they have a shuttle waiting down by Grand Wash on Highway 24, unless they wish to hike back upstream another 10 miles.
Trail Head: 38.315121, -111.304451
Trail Type: Hiking
Length: 3.3 miles round trip
The trail starts on the north side of Highway 24, and quickly begins to ascend the side of the mesa, following switchbacks as the slope increases. After a 300-foot climb, hikers find themselves at the beginning of the loop trail.
The loop trail circles the top of Mummy Cliff to the south of Chimney Rock, though part of the same formation. Since this is a loop trail, hikers can go which ever direction they wish. But most people end up going counterclockwise so that they can get the climb from the beginning of the loop trail to the cliffs over with early.
Chimney Rock was once part of the same sediment bed that solidified into the Mummy Cliff and the rest of the mesa. But as the mesa has eroded back further and further over the millennia, Chimney Rock has withstood the tests of time. Made of harder stone, or positioned just right so as to be able to shrug off the winds and stone-splitting frosts, the natural landmark is more resistant to erosion than the surrounding sandstone.
Located at the east side of the mesa, this canyon cuts its way down to Spring Canyon, and then onto Highway 24 and the Fremont River.
Seemingly made of stacked sandstone bricks, the Mummy Cliffs almost appear to be buttresses holding up the edges of the mesa. The cliffs mark the highest point of the mesa, rising up out of Chimney Rock Canyon with the rest of the slanted Waterpocket Fold.