On Thursday we intended to drive to the southern section of Capitol Reef for a long hike. But it was quite cold for most of the morning, so we decided to take a hike much closer to home. The Chimney Rock Trailhead is just a few miles west of town, so after it warmed up a bit we drove over to take the three mile loop hike.
From the trailhead, the hike quickly goes up the side of the mesa for almost two miles. From the summit you get a beautiful view of Chimney Rock below and the cliff running west to Torrey.
On the other side of the summit there is a great view to the Waterpocket Fold to the east.
The trail then turned to the north toward the red cliffs.
Along the way we spotted several pieces of petrified wood by the side of the trail.
The Chimney Rock Trail is a loop, but about half way around it intersects with another trail leading into Spring Canyon. A couple we spoke with on the loop had just been on the trail to the canyon and said it was a great hike. So the next day we returned to the Chimney Rock Trailhead and took the cutoff leading to Spring Canyon. The hike is basically in a wash, but the rocks and canyon walls provide spectacular scenes all around you.
After hiking for a while, we found a perch on a rock to have lunch while enjoying the steep canyon walls all around us.
Across from our lunch site we found a beautiful rock formation with a variety of swirling colors.
Nearby was a large formation that appeared to be a solid dark rock. A closer look at places where the rock had eroded revealed the dark rock was just a thin covering. Once the dark covering had eroded, the swirling colorful rock below was revealed.
Along the way we spotted some cool arches above us.
At times, the trail snaked through numerous huge boulders of sandstone.
After joining Spring Canyon, the trail continues for over six miles. We hiked about three miles into the canyon before turning around and hiking back to the trailhead. Like most hikes, the return trip revealed many great views we missed on the trip into the canyon.
The loop hike at Chimney Rock is pretty cool, but the Spring Canyon is much more interesting.