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The Chimneys Professional Review and Guide
"The tall ridge of rock outcrops known as the Chimneys has been a landmark for hundreds of years. Indian petroglyphs decorate one rock wall, and the remains of small rock shelters used by herders are tucked against the rocks.This trail is a cool weather hike. Temperatures can begin to get very hot as early as April 1. The Chimneys and Peña Spring have the only shade. Be sure to carry plenty of water; springs are not always reliable, and hikers must purify spring water.The trail is most easily done as a one-way hike to Old Maverick Road with a shuttle arranged at the other end. Another good option is a round-trip day hike only as far as the Chimneys for a total distance of 4.8 miles. The trail is well traveled and clearly visible as far as the Chimneys; beyond, it is much less used and occasionally gets faint. Topographic maps and a compass would be good insurance. The mileages shown on the current sign at the start of the trail are a touch high."
--Laurence Parent, Hiking Big Bend National Park (Falcon Guides).
The Chimneys are very inviting and you can chose any of the following ways to enjoy it. This can be a long oneway day hike, backpacking hike, or hike just to the Chimneys ridge and tower - then hike back to the trailhead. We chose the "there and back" for a round trip of just under 5 miles. From the trailhead(off Ross Maxwell Scenic Dr.) the trail descends gradually. On the return hike the moderate incline to the trailhead can be described as gentle. The Chimneys are easily seen, making the hike very comfortable - our destination was almost always in view. The trail crosses a dry river bed in two different places, in both places there are medium-sized trees and tall vegetation lending a bit of shade when needed. Once reaching the Chimneys ridge we enjoyed resting on the shaded ledges and had a great view of the mouth of Santa Elena Canyon. On the southside of the ridge is a single Chimney tower very much worth checking out. There we found native American petroglyphs carved into one side of the tower and on the other side(south) we found an old sheep herder's shelter that nature had carved out of the rock tower. There were many photo opportunities and we took advantage of every one! This was a very enjoyable hike.
I hiked this route from the west trailhead with Kit Mountain to my south. It has a well defined trail making for an easy, although uneventful hike to the Chimneys. Once there, a world of photographic opportunities come alive. Especially near sunset. The evening sun will dray the bright yellows and reds out of some very interesting rock formations. Some of my pictures from this hike can be viewed on the BBNP - expanded website hosted by Ranger Tom Vanderburg. The address is http://www.nps.gov/bibe/photogallery/photogallery.htm There are a couple of scenic shots and one night shot of my tent with the chimneys in the background. A great day hike or short overnighter.
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