Wild Places We Go

Chimney Rock

Anyone that knows me, knows that I am not accustomed to defeat. Nor am I comfortable with it when that rare occurrence does take place.

Nevertheless, I did experience the bitter taste of defeat earlier this year when attempting to summit Chimney Rock with Molly.

Chimney Rock is a huge volcanic cone that is 12 feet in diameter at its base and then rises nearly straight up for 25 feet. There are great views from the top making it well worth the trip. Yet because the route to the trailhead is so complicated, few either know of Chimney Rock or get around to making the trip.

This is the road you turn off on from Highway 49 to reach Chimney Rock.  It is just before or just past Downieville, depending on which direction you are coming from.

The road is pretty good all the way to the trailhead, but don’t bother coming until summer or you’ll be turned back by snow on the ridges (as Molly and I discovered).

This operation was quite a ways in (really in the middle of nowhere) and I was very curious what it was all about.

There are good views to be had from the ridgetops.

Fire Lookout Tower.

More views from the drive in.

This is where you park – among the more attractive parking lots I have seen.

This is the trailhead with Jimmy Ames in the foreground.

There are some more great views along the trail and the trail itself starts to get interesting.

To get to Chimney Rock, take the trail to the left indicating 3 miles to Empire Creek Trail.

This is me starting down the fork in the trail.

And as you can see, the trail gets more interesting still.

Now, this isn’t Chimney Rock.  It’s a little before Chimney Rock, but don’t be put off that it is not Chimney Rock.  It is still awesome.

And, of course, you need to climb to the top.

But, I would come back for that.  Darkness was approaching rapidly and I had to make it to Chimney Rock.

This is the view back toward the awesome formation featured above.

And this is the view forward toward Chimney Rock.

And here is the first view of Chimney Rock.

These pallets were near the base of Chimney Rock.  I have no idea what they were there for, but I’m impressed as hell that someone hauled them all of the way in because that is not an easy hike.

A view on the other side of Chimney Rock where a similar formation can be found.

And, of course, the views around Chimney Rock.

But now back to the awesome formation mentioned above – On the way up, I scrambled up the rock slide area, but this is a situation where you take two steps forward and slide 1.9999999 steps back.  So, you might find it more expedient to just go straight up the cliff face.

Anyway, this is the view from the top.  Pretty cool.

I found the back side to be surprisingly steep.

This is the summit.

To save time and because I like rock climbing, I just went straight down the cliff face on the way back.  It ended up being even easier than I expected.  So, as suggested above, you might want to just go up and down this way.

The walk out in the gathering darkness made for some cool pictures.

And the darkness on the way out made for some fun driving, although I don’t think Jimmy liked it as much as I did.

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