Chesler Park/Joint Trail Loop

Chesler Park/Joint Trail Loop

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 38.11815°N / 109.84997°W
Additional Information Route Type: Hiking
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Additional Information Time Required: Most of a day
Additional Information Difficulty: Hike
Sign the Climber's Log

Overview

Chesler Park is a grassy plain surrounded by colorful sandstone formations in the Needles district of Canyonlands National Park. A 5.1 mile long loop trail goes around the periphery of the plain providing the hiker with great views of the plain and the formations. Most people access the loop via a 2.9 mile trail starting at Elephant Hill Trailhead creating a 10.9 mile lollipop shaped hike. A section of the trail at the southern edge of Chesler Park goes through an area of narrows. This section is known as Joint Trail.

Getting There

From The Needles entrance station drive 3 miles and turn left onto a road signed for Squaw Flat/Elephant Hill. You will then turn right and then another right onto a well graded dirt road that is usually passable for two wheel drive. Continue 3 miles on the dirt road to Elephant Hill (Soda Spring) Trailhead.

Route Description, from Elephant Hill Trailhead

Chesler Park MapMap



Total Hiking Distance: 10.9 miles

Elephant Hill Trailhead to Jct with Squaw Flat Trail, 1.5 miles
See Druid Arch Trail.

Through the Narrows and Down into Elephant Canyon, 0.6 miles
See Druid Arch Trail.

Out of Elephant Canyon, 0.6 miles
The trail climbs out Elephant Canyon and reaches a junction with Devils Kitchen Trail.

Hiking out of Elephant Canyon

Hiking out of Elephant Canyon

Hiking out of Elephant Canyon


Through a pass and into Chesler Park, 0.2 miles
Right goes to Devils Kitchen, continue straight.

On the way to Chesler Park


The trail goes up a slope to a pass between two needles.

The pass before Chesler ParkPass on the left


View from the slope

From the pass before Chesler Park


At the pass you can go up a short distance to reach a viewpoint.

From the view point at the pass before Chesler ParkFrom viewpoint


The trail then comes down to reach the Chesler Park Loop. You can go either way and come back the other. This description turns left (straight) going on the trail on the eastern edge of Chesler Park.

East edge of Chesler Park, 1.3 miles
Chesler Park will now be in full view.

East edge of Chesler Park

East edge of Chesler Park


The trail takes you to a spot where Elephant Canyon can be seen.

Elephant Canyon

Elephant Canyon


Continuing south on Chesler Park.

East edge of Chesler Park

East edge of Chesler Park

East edge of Chesler Park

From southeastern part of Chesler Park


You will then reach another junction with a trail that goes to Elephant Canyon.

South edge of Chesler Park/Joint Trail, 1.5 miles
Continue straight. After a while, the trail makes a U-turn heading back north, then turns west.

South side of Chesler Park


You will soon reach a slickrock area. This is the start of Joint Trail.

Start of Joint Trail


Before continuing on Joint Trail, it is worth following cairns up the slickrock one quarter of a mile to a high viewpoint.

From viewpoint near Joint Trail

Chesler Park from viewpoint near Joint Trail

Chesler Park from viewpoint near Joint Trail


You will then return to Joint Trail going down into an area of narrows.

Joint TrailMy hiking pole, 36" long

Joint Trail


In a spot you have to go down a big step. A log will help you do this.

Step log in Joint Trail


Pay attention to the cairns. The trail makes a 90 degree turn going into a side area of narrows.

Joint Trail


After exiting the narrows, the trail goes downhill to reach a four wheel drive road.

Joint Trail west of the narrows

Joint Trail west of the narrows

Joint Trail west of the narrows

Joint Trail west of the narrows


Hiking the 4WD Road, 0.7 miles
Hike the four wheel drive road. At a T-intersection, turn right.

Hiking the 4WD Road

Hiking the 4WD Road

Hiking the 4WD Road

Hiking the 4WD road


West edge of Chesler Park, 0.4 miles
Pay attention to the right side of the road to see the sign where the trail leaves the road. Exit the road and hike up the trail.

West end of Chesler Park

West end of Chesler Park

West end of Chesler Park

West end of Chesler Park


You will then go up a slickrock area to a junction. Straight goes to Devils Pocket/Devils Kitchen. Turn right onto Chesler Park Trail.

West end of Chesler Park


North edge of Chesler Park, 1.2 miles
This trail heads east paralleling the needles on the north side of Chesler Park.

North end of Chesler Park

North end of Chesler Park

North end of Chesler Park

North end of Chesler Park

North end of Chesler Park

North end of Chesler Park

North end of Chesler Park

North end of Chesler Park


You will then reach the place where you first entered Chesler Park Loop. Turn left and return to Elephant Hill Trailhead.

Return to Elephant Hill Trailhead, 2.9 miles

Essential Gear

Hiking equipment.



Parents 

Parents

Parents refers to a larger category under which an object falls. For example, theAconcagua mountain page has the 'Aconcagua Group' and the 'Seven Summits' asparents and is a parent itself to many routes, photos, and Trip Reports.