Chimney Rock

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.

Location Selkirk Mountains
Rating 3.8 out of 5
Difficulty More Difficult (uphill; precarious trail around the chimney)
Distance 10.8 miles
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)
Trail Type Out-and-back
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).
Status Unprotected
Administration Kaniksu National Forest
Permits None required
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
Distance From
  • Coeur d’Alene 73.9 miles
  • Lewiston 187.6 miles
  • Sandpoint 28.4 miles
  • Seattle 378.1 miles
  • Spokane 100.3 miles
Resources
Nearby Hikes
    Date August 5, 2017

    Bridge across Pack River at trailheadThe 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. 

    Chimney Creek features an inviting poolEventually 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. 

    First view of Chimney Rock around 3.5 miles into the hikeShortly 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.

    Chimney Rock from the end of the basinNear 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! 

    Enjoy this hike? Let us know in the comments below!

    Campsite at trailhead
    Campsite at trailhead
    Pack River
    Pack River
    Bridge across Pack River at trailhead
    Bridge across Pack River at trailhead
    Trail #2653 and bridge across Thor Creek
    Trail #2653 and bridge across Thor Creek
    Cedar grove
    Cedar grove
    Views down Pack River valley
    Views down Pack River valley
    An unnamed tributary to West Branch
    An unnamed tributary to West Branch
    Lots of bees and flowers
    Lots of bees and flowers
    Huge boulders ahead of the Chimney Creek crossing
    Huge boulders ahead of the Chimney Creek crossing
    Chimney Creek features an inviting pool
    Chimney Creek features an inviting pool
    Huckleberries and beargrass line the singletrack after the Chimney Creek crossing
    Huckleberries and beargrass line the singletrack after the Chimney Creek crossing
    First view of Chimney Rock around 3.5 miles into the hike
    First view of Chimney Rock around 3.5 miles into the hike
    The climb up leads across this forested knoll below the granite slab
    The climb up leads across this forested knoll below the granite slab
    Follow the cairns across the rock slab!
    Follow the cairns across the rock slab!
    From the basin below Mt. Roothaan you get a good view of Chimney Rock
    From the basin below Mt. Roothaan you get a good view of Chimney Rock
    McCormick Ridge and Gunsight Peak
    McCormick Ridge and Gunsight Peak
    Steep cliff of Mt. Roothaan
    Steep cliff of Mt. Roothaan
    A rough shelter and dry campsite
    A rough shelter and dry campsite
    The trail leads along the right side of this boulder field
    The trail leads along the right side of this boulder field
    A patch of beargrass high up still in bloom
    A patch of beargrass high up still in bloom
    Beargrass in full bloom
    Beargrass in full bloom
    Chimney Rock from the end of the basin
    Chimney Rock from the end of the basin
    Geocache spoiler foto
    Geocache spoiler foto
    Chimney Rock from the boulder field. The trail follows along the base to the saddle on the right, then curls around and ends up on the razor-edge saddle to the left of the chimney
    Chimney Rock from the boulder field. The trail follows along the base to the saddle on the right, then curls around and ends up on the razor-edge saddle to the left of the chimney
    Naughty found a pool in the basin below Chimney Rock
    Naughty found a pool in the basin below Chimney Rock
    Chimney Rock from right beneath it
    Chimney Rock from right beneath it
    View into Pack River valley
    View into Pack River valley
    The Pack River trail drops down to the right along the boulder field into the trees.
    The Pack River trail drops down to the right along the boulder field into the trees.
    Panoram of north side (Eddy Peak and Silver Dollar Peak)
    Panoram of north side (Eddy Peak and Silver Dollar Peak)
    Lots of sharp crags
    Lots of sharp crags
    Mt. Roothaan, with Priest Lake in the background
    Mt. Roothaan, with Priest Lake in the background
    View of west side towards Priest Lake
    View of west side towards Priest Lake
    A couple of climbers up on Chimney Rock
    A couple of climbers up on Chimney Rock
    Priest Lake. Haze due to forest fires
    Priest Lake. Haze due to forest fires
    Its a climbers paradise…
    It’s a climber’s paradise…
    Trailmap
    Alternate Routes

    • You can also access Chimney Rock from the Priest Lake side along Horton Ridge


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    2 Comments Add yours

    1. montucky says:

      The views of that spire would make the hike to get there a pleasure. What a beautiful sight!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. naughtyhiker says:

        As far as rock formations it’s hard to beat. A large hunk fell off in 2012

        Liked by 1 person

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