Chimney Rock to the Spring in Upper Spring Canyon, Chimney Rock Trailhead, Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

Chimney Rock to the Spring in Upper Spring Canyon - 9.3 miles

Chimney Rock Trailhead

Unmaintained travel in Chimney Rock Canyon

Unmaintained travel in Chimney Rock Canyon

Round-Trip Length: 9.3 miles (distance will vary by route)
Start-End Elevation: 6,055' - 6,053' (6,328' max elevation)
Elevation Change: +273' net elevation gain (+1,145' total roundtrip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Moderate
Dogs Allowed: No
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: No
Related Trails:

Chimney Rock to the Spring in Upper Spring Canyon - 9.3 Miles Round-Trip

Spring Canyon stretches over 16 miles from the SE flank of Thousand Lakes Mountain in the Fishlake National Forest to the Fremont River in Capitol Reef National Park. The canyon is divided into Upper and Lower segments; the upper is accessed from Holt Draw Road west of the park, and the lower from Highway 24 within the park.

Trail Map | Photo Gallery

This unmaintained hiking route features towering Wingate cliffs, Navajo domes, twisting narrows and two springs. 

Though it takes considerable effort to reach Upper Spring Canyon from Holt Draw, Chimney Rock Canyon provides a short cut into the heart of Spring Canyon, from which point hikers will find moderate travel in either direction. 

One great day-hike option leads to the spring in Upper Spring Canyon, 4.65 miles from the Chimney Rock Loop Trailhead. This route follows the north side of Chimney Rock Loop into Chimney Rock Canyon, which meets Spring Canyon at the Upper - Lower Canyon split.

It turns NW into Upper Spring Canyon for an easy walk up to the spring, which is ringed by cottonwood trees under a large alcove. 

Though not technical, canyon travel on unmaintained routes requires good map and navigation skills. Unmarked obstacles may exist, and flash floods can pose serious hazards:

The Chimney Rock Trail runs across bright red mudstone and siltstone flats up to the beginning of the loop (.5 miles : 6,328'). Veer left and begin a rolling descent in and above a wash to the Chimney Rock Canyon split (1.35 miles : 6,155'). Keep left and begin unmaintained travel in CRC.

Chimney Rock Canyon narrows under towering Wingate walls streaked with desert varnish. You'll pass two side canyons on the left (@ 1.65 miles and 2.3 miles) and scramble through 2-3 obstacles before reaching the marked split for Upper-Lower Spring Canyon (2.9 miles : 5,895').

Turn left into USC. Travel soon clarifies past a coble-strewn area into a lush cottonwood forest with good camping terrain (3.4 miles : 5,920'). Remain in the wash and cross back and forth as required. There are several grassy benches along the way, but avoid trampling through sensitive vegetation and disturbing biological soil crusts.

At 4.6 miles you'll see a thick cluster of cottonwoods under a tall alcove just off to the right (north). Follow a small wash about 125 yards to the base of the alcove and spring (4.65 miles : 6,053'). Water seeps from high above, and depending on time of year and flow, your eyes can trace it back to the source. 

Do not enter or touch water in the seep or collection pool, or disturb vegetation in the area. Use water sparingly, and only if absolutely necessary.

Return Hike Note: Re-joining the Chimney Rock Loop from Chimney Rock Canyon can be a little tricky. The route-trail braids in several places as you near this point, and cairns can be difficult to follow. Take note of side canyons and key features on the way out, as they can be useful in regaining the trail on the way back.

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Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • N38 18.948 W111 18.239 — 0.0 miles : Chimney Rock Trailhead
  • N38 19.053 W111 17.896 — .5 miles : Loop split - veer right
  • N38 19.026 W111 17.408 — 1.0 miles : Rolling descent on north side of loop
  • N38 19.046 W111 17.091 — 1.35 miles : Chimney Rock Canyon split
  • N38 19.187 W111 16.704 — 1.85 miles : Travel down wash
  • N38 19.377 W111 16.432 — 2.3 miles : Keep right at side canyon split
  • N38 19.455 W111 15.836 — 3.05 miles : Upper - Lower Spring Canyon split
  • N38 19.794 W111 15.809 — 3.5 miles : Mild travel in Upper Spring Canyon
  • N38 19.866 W111 16.148 — 4.0 miles : Mild travel in Upper Spring Canyon
  • N38 20.013 W111 16.589 — 4.5 miles : Mild travel in Upper Spring Canyon
  • N38 20.115 W111 16.653 — 4.6 miles : Wash split to spring
  • N38 20.143 W111 16.599 — 4.65 miles : Spring (6,053')

Worth Noting

  • Stay on established trails, avoid stepping in biological soil crust, and do not shortcut switchbacks.
  • Do not enter or disturb natural water sources.

Camping and Backpacking Information

Backcountry camping is available 'at large'. Permits are required for all backcountry camping in Capitol Reef National Park. Permits are free and can be obtained at the Capitol Reef National Park Visitor Center. Call 435.425.3791 for more information.

Camping permits are limited in Upper and Lower Spring Canyon.

  • Group size cannot exceed 12 people
  • Do not collect firewood or build ground fires. Portable gas stoves only.

  • Do not camp within 0.5 mile (0.8 km) or in sight of roads or trails. In narrow canyons, try to camp as far away from the hiking route as possible and out of sight.

Rules and Regulations

  • Dogs are not permitted on hiking trails and routes in Capitol Reef National Park.
  • Writing on rocks is strictly prohibited. Significant fines apply.

Directions to Trailhead

The Chimney Rock Trailhead is located 3.1 miles west of the Capitol Reef Visitor Center on Highway 24 (north side of road).

Contact Information

Capitol Reef National Park
16 Scenic Drive
Torrey, UT 84775

The Visitor Center is open every day 8:00 am - 4:30 pm, with extended hours in the spring and fall.

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