This trail is the most heavily used in the Needles district. It leads southwestward from Elephant Hill Trailhead into and around the boundary of Chesler Park. It joins several trails along it route including Elephant Canyon/Druid Arch Trail and the Joint Trail. There are six backcountry camping sites along this route. A permit from the visitor center is necessary to stay overnight in the Canyonlands backcountry.
Begin this hike from the Elephant Hill Trailhead. The track leads southward from the trailhead over slickrock and past some interesting formations as it ascends slightly from Soda Spring. One and a half miles from the trailhead you'll reach a trail junction. The route joining Chesler Park Trail from the east leads two and a half miles to Big Spring Canyon Trail. Bear right at this junction and begin hiking westward.
The trail leads west for one half mile over slickrock descending into Elephant Canyon. Once on the floor of this drainage the track forks. The left fork leads southward through Elephant Canyon three and a half miles to Druid Arch. Backcountry campsite EC1 lies at this junction.
To continue to Chesler Park cross Elephant Canyon and hiking westward. The track ascends 240 feet then levels turning slightly southward then westward again before reaching a trail junction almost three miles from the trailhead. At this junction the Chesler Park Trail meets the route leading southward from Devils Kitchen Camp. Turn left to enter Chesler Park.
As you walk southward you'll see the northern side of the ring of spires that surrounds Chesler Park. The trail crosses the rock formations, which provide a good overlook of the park. A short distance from the last trail junction Chesler Park Trail forks again. Both sides of this fork are the Chesler Park Trail. Bear left and hike one and a half miles to the Joint Trail and campsites CP2,3, 4 and 5. Campsite CP1 is also along this portion of the trail.
The right side of this fork leads westward along the northern boundary of the park. One mile from the park loop junction the western side of Chesler Park Trail reaches a junction. The Devils Pocket Trail joins Chesler Park Trail from the north at this junction. Turn left to continue around the boundary of Chesler Park. The route leads nearly one mile south from this junction, descending slightly, to reach the northern terminus of a four-wheel drive road. To form a circle around Chesler Park follow this four-wheel drive road southward to a junction and bear left. Continue walking along this roadway for one half mile to reach the western end of the Joint Trail.
Directions: From Needles Visitor Center, Follow the main park road to Squaw Flat Campground. Bear right onto Elephant Hill access road and follow that 2 miles to the trailhead.
Elevation: 5,200 feet
Ending Elevation: 5,150 feet
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Canyonlands National Park, Utah
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