7 Greater Zion Trails - #6 Chinle Trail
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Chinle is a journey for lovers of open spaces. It offers a taste of Zion National Park's expansive wilderness outside of the well-trafficked main canyon. (It's almost impossible to visit southwestern Utah without stopping by one of the state's most loved and inspiring landscapes.) Chinle is one of Zion’s desert trails, those off the high plateau and out of the canyons, in lower elevation and on smoother ground. As the Chinle trail rolls over hills and dips into dry washes, it earns fantastic and rarely seen perspectives of the landscape. This is the best view you can get of the fortress-like walls of Mount Kinesava, the prominent peak seen when driving to Zion from the south. Other eyefuls include the jagged spires of Eagle Crags to the south, the forested flat top of Gooseberry Mesa, and the towering West Temple to the east.
The desert also yields many smaller pleasures, like fragrant wildflowers in the spring, lizards and rabbits darting across the trail, and on Chinle Trail in particular, petrified wood from prehistoric forests. About four miles into the hike the route crosses the petrified forest in Utah, where small and colorful pieces of fossilized trees can be found scattered around.
Have patience with this trail: Walking through the neighborhood at first and then a few miles along a wide, sandy path is initially uninspiring, but about three miles in the trail feels all of a sudden escaped from society and erased from time.
Moderate to Strenuous
Pro Tips: National Parks pass required to hike. Always check the weather in advance. Can often be hiked in winter but watch for high winds.