Chinle Trail – 16.2mi / 26.1km
Standing in stark contrast to the bustle of Zion Canyon lies the Chinle Trail in the Southwest Desert region of the Park. Instead of a walk among canyons, this trail meanders through the open desert and terminates when it intersects Coalpits Wash.
The first part of the hike winds through private property and residences, then opens up with the red rocks of Mount Kinesava creating a surreal backdrop. As the walk continues, you enter into the Park through a gate and head towards Mount Kinesava. As you round the base of the mountain, views of the back side of the Towers of the Virgin peek around the corner. You come to a rim of a little canyon known as Hubert Wash. As you follow the rim up the wash, the canyon walls get shorter until you can easily cross the wash.
On the other side of the wash, scattered on the ground, you see old tree stumps and pieces of rotten logs of a forest long ago. Upon closer observation you will see that the logs are stone, and you are wandering through a petrified forest! (Note: leave the petrified rock where you find it. It is against the law to remove natural or cultural objects from the Park.)
The trail continues on to Scoggins Wash. The rocky walls of the washes adds variety to the views as you walk along their rims. Keep an eye out for entertaining Antelope Squirrels that scamper across the desert with their tails in the air. The trail after crossing Scoggins Wash can be faint and difficult to follow in sections, so paying attention to subtle cues and a little trial and error will find the well established trail further on.
The plant life changes from predominantly sagebrush and juniper to more grasslands between Scoggins Wash and Coalpits Wash. There are a few nice vantages down into Coalpits Wash. The black, volcanic rock appears in clusters giving the appearance of coal pits. The Chinle Trail ends at campsite 5 as you drop down to the wash. Turn around here and head back to your vehicle.
Bring plenty of water as it is virtually nonexistent along this hike with the exception of an intermittent spring at the end of the Chinle Trail. Also, be aware of the weather conditions as the washes can flash flood with the rain.
On your return, there are a variety of options exploring the washes if you so desire. (See Chinle Trail-Scoggins Wash for one alternative.) Also note that following the washes out will take you back to the highway, thus a hitchhike or some sort of shuttle arrangements will need to be made to get you back to your car.
Trailhead: From Springdale, take Highway 9 west and look for Anasazi Way before you get to Rockville. Take a right and head north on Anasazi Way and look for the gravel parking lot to your right before you get into the residential area. The turn is a very sharp right with a pretty steep descent. Follow the signs for the trail.
Elevation Gain: 1,750ft / 525m – Elevation Loss: 1,750ft / 525m