Easily identifiable on clear days from as far away as Myrtle Peak or Priest Lake, the distinct shape of Chimney Rock makes this one of the most popular hikes in the southern Selkirk Crest. The views are superb and if you’re into rock climbing you won’t want to miss the technical climb to the pinnacle, first climbed in 1934.
|Rating||3.8 out of 5|
|Difficulty||More Difficult (uphill; precarious trail around the chimney)|
|Duration||4:11 hours moving time (hiking)|
|Elevation Gain||2,798 feet|
|High Point||6,931 feet (Saddle below Chimney Rock)|
|Low Point||4,021 feet (Trailhead)|
|Trailbed||Old logging roads, packed dirt, granite slab|
|Water||There are a few creeks, most of them seasonal, along the old logging roads. Chimney Creek is probably the last reliable source of water. We found a small pool off-trail in the basin below Chimney Rock (see trailmap).|
|Administration||Kaniksu National Forest|
|Conditions||Good. Cleared of downfall, but somewhat overgrown with shrubbery. The trail is difficult to discern across the granite slabs and in the boulder fields you are on your own.|
|Camping||At trailhead and a few dry spots in the basin below Chimney Rock|
|Maps||USGS Mount Roothaan|
|Trailhead||From US-95, head west on Upper Pack River Road (this is about 11 miles north of Sandpoint, in a place called Samuels. There is a gas station on the left, shortly after you cross the Pack River). Stay on Upper Pack River (aka FR #231) for 17 miles (the first 7 are blacktopped, the rest is a well-graded gravel road). Turn left onto FR #2653 and head downhill for a quarter mile to the trailhead.
Google Directions (48.624471, -116.627274)
|Season||July – October|
|Squirrel Density||Ground squirrel galore!|
|Features||Mountaintop, Grove, Meadow|
|Date||August 5, 2017|
The trail starts out by crossing the Pack River on a newer bridge, then following old FR #2653, which is now closed to motorized traffic. The road consists of a dense bed of noxious weeds bordered on both sides by thick stands of alder and shoulder-high bracken ferns. It meanders alongside the lower flank of Silver Dollar Peak in a southwesterly direction for a couple of miles, crossing Thor Creek on a sturdy bridge, entering a cooling grove of western red cedars, then exchanging the shade and cool for heat and views of the Pack River valley and the west face of Roman Nose on the other side of the Pack River.
Eventually you come to a fork in the road. In the hiking world, as in real life, the road less traveled involves more bushwhacking, thus choose the road more traveled, which, alas, leads westwards and uphill. It remains an old logging road all the way to Chimney Creek at the 3-mile mark. As the road ascends towards Chimney Creek the tree canopy opens somewhat and serves up views of the McCormick Ridge and Gunsight Peak.
Shortly past Chimney Creek, the trail loses all semblance of a road, being reduced to a single-track winding its way uphill through a lush carpet of still-tart (in early August) huckleberries. Be on the lookout for Chimney Rock, with first glimpses possible near the 3.25-mile mark through the trees. Shortly afterward you’ll emerge onto a granite bench, enabling a better look at the chimney. The terrain flattens out and you’ll have to keep a sharp eye on the rock cairns signaling the route across the expansive granite slabs.
Near the 4-mile mark the route turns northwestwards toward Chimney Peak, but staying below a steep cliff of a Mount Roothaan flank. The trail here is quite overgrown and easy to lose, especially when you get into the rockier areas. We lost is more than once, but as long as you keep a sharp eye on the rock cairns you’ll find your way back to the proper route. Once the trees retreat, and Chimney Rock rises up in it full glory in front of you, the trail all but vanishes. The objective is simple, though. Cross the boulder field towards the base of Chimney Rock, then hike along its base towards the saddle to the right (eastern side). After taking in the view to the north (Eddy Peak, Silver Dollar Peak) follow the narrow and precarious footpath around Chimney Rock’s north face to the west side. The west side offers a fairly straightforward scramble up to the razor-edge saddle just below Chimney Rock. This spot provides grandiose views in every direction, including Priest Lake. The ledge is only a few feet wide though, and the drop-off on the eastern side is vertical. Be careful!
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- You can also access Chimney Rock from the Priest Lake side along Horton Ridge
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