Zion's South Side.
Part of Zion's beauty its great geological diversity and the resulting variety of plant and animal communities. The Chinle Trail highlights Zion's Lowland Desert habitat, the warmest, driest ecological niche in the Park. At 4,000 ft. above sea level, this hike can be brutally hot after 9 AM during summer. Fall through spring, however, the Chinle Trail makes for a comfortable day hike of any length you like. Wildflowers are particularly stunning in the washes and creek beds March thru May.
The Chinle is a long trail, and you can approach the hike in a few different ways. Some hike Chinle as an out-and-back, traveling the full length and then doubling back. Others spot a car at Huber Wash, then hike Chinle to Huber, following Huber down to their shuttle car. Still others spot a car at Coalpits Wash and plan a long one-day hike or a more comfortable two-day overnight backpacking trip connecting to the Scoggins or Coalpits Wash Trails. Backpackers typically camp in the vicinity of the Coalpits Wash Trail Junction, though some travel further up Coalpits Wash to find wonderfully isolated territory under Cougar Mountain, The Bishopric, and the Towers of the Virgin.
Moderately strenuous hike, easy but long
3-5 hours roundtrip to Huber Wash, or 4-6 hours one way to the Coalpits Wash Junction, 2 days for Chinle-Coalpits backpack
October through April
6.8 miles (11 km), roundtrip to Huber Wash; or 8.1 miles (13 km) one-way to the Coalpits Wash Trail Junction; about 15 miles from Chinle Trailhead to Coalpits Trailhead
390 feet (119 m)
Out-and-back day hikes begin and end at Chinle Trailhead. One-way day hikes or overnight backpacking trips should spot a car at the Coalpits Trailhead, and get a shuttle or ride to start at the Chinle Trailhead.
Most of the hike is in the full sun
Only if camping overnight
Sturdy hiking shoes, ample water, and food for a full day of hiking.
Water is available at Coalpits Spring, which is 0.2 miles past the Coalpits Trail Junction. If day hiking, bring plenty of water.
There are no designated campsites along the Chinle or Coalpits Wash trails, so camping is open. Please follow Leave No Trace practices and stay well way from the trail.
Long trail can be a big time commitment, especially during the HOT summer season. Watch out for rattlesnakes along the trail.
SPRING - Generally a great time to hike this trail. Great vistas of the surrounding desert and fantastic wildflowers if you visit when the blooms explode. Can be really muddy, depending on winter snow and recent precipitation.
SUMMER - HOT! Hike is in full sun and not recommended in hot weather. If hiking the trail, leave early (5 AM is reasonable) to avoid the heat of the day.
FALL - Another great time to hike this trail, with nice fall color and great solitude.
WINTER - Possible snowpack and ice, or mud from recent rains. The mud is great for animal tracking!
The access to the Chinle Trailhead can seem a bit tricky. Please respect the mix of private and park property near the start of the trailhead.
From Springdale, drive West on Hwy 9 toward Rockville. Just past the Springdale Fruit Company as you turn a wide corner, look for a small road, Anasazi Way, on the right. This is a private road and signed accordingly, but it is okay to use it to access the public trailhead. Head up the steep grade just a few hundred feet and then take a sharp right down a steep gravel hill (there is a sign directing to "Trailhead Parking"). This is the Park Service lot for the Chinle Trail. DO NOT park in the subdivision, as your car could be towed.
From the trailhead, follow the trail carefully through the neighborhoods. Please stay on the trail to preserve relationships with private property owners. The trail winds through the subdivision and eventually ends up at the gated Park Boundary. A hikers gate provides entry and now you are within the National Park.
The trail weaves through some low forest and gives stunning views of surrounding desert and cliffs and towers in Zion's southern end. The desert lowlands are particularly rich in cryptobiotic soil, so please stick to the well-worn trail to protect the fragile living soil. There used to be great quanities of petrified wood in this part of the Park, but rampant theft has made is less common. Please enjoy any petrified wood you find, but leave it where you find it for others to discover and appreciate.
Huber Wash Day Hike
After about 3.2 miles, the trail reaches Huber Wash, which flows south toward the Virgin River. If day hiking, this is a great turn-around point.
Closer to 5 miles from the trailhead, Scoggins Wash is seen next to the trail. The trail rounds the head (beginning) of the wash. About a 1.25 miles after first seeing Scoggins Wash, an old stock trail steeply descends into the Wash. At the intersection, take the trail right, leading to Coalpits Wash. Continue down the wash 1.3 miles to the Coalpits Trail Junction with the Chinle.
The Chinle Trail ends at Coalpits Wash. Campsites are located about 50 yards from the junction. There is often water running through the wash, which can be filtered for drinking water. The Coalpits Spring is located about 0.2 miles from the Junction, on the right backside.
Hiking down Coalpits is very enjoyable and sticks to the wash. The Coalpits trailhead is only about 3.2 miles from the junction with the Chinle. Because of the short hike out, it's often interesting to explore UP the Coalpits Wash before packing up camp and heading out to the trailhead.