While exploring the Crooked River Road last weekend we made a mid-day stop to do the Chimney Rock Hike. We had heard that it was an easy, but delightful hike up to the top of the canyon that gave views of the Cascade Mountains in the distance.
The Chimney Rock Hike
The trail is a 2.7 mile out and back trail located in the Chimney Rock segment of the Crooked River paved road. The trail head is about 16 miles south of Prineville, Oregon on Crooked River Road (Highway 27) opposite of the Chimney Rock Campground. There is parking on both sides of the road.
This trail climbs through canyons and plateaus up to Chimney Rock. Even in early March, we saw a few wildflowers and many birds. The open views along the way were spectacular and provided many photo opportunities.
The Chimney Rock hike trail is well marked, a bit steep and rocky in some places, but overall it was a moderate hike. We came upon a group of hikers that did this trail routinely with their family. They had a young child who managed the trail easily. There is a bench located about one mile into the hike that offers a grand view of the Crooked River Canyon and on a clear day, the Cascade Mountains in the distance. There is another bench at the base of Chimney Rock where you can sit and enjoy the vistas both up and down the Crooked River Gorge.
Don’t drop your video camera while you are hiking. Especially on a steep gravelly slope. Thanks to my hero, Dick, it was recovered with just minor scratches!
The trail zigzags up though a nice little side ravine leading to a steeper section and then onto a more level area where the views really begin. You then find the first bench on the right side of the trail, overlooking the Crooked River far below.
As you continue from here you go around a bend and see the Chimney Rock. Is is a short down hill hike from there before heading up to the base of the rock and the second bench.
The trail is open all year, but due to the steepness of parts of the trail, winter hiking would probably need crampons if there is snow on the trail. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash. If you are going in summer, ensure you take plenty of water since there is very little shade. There is a bathroom in the campground across the road from the trailhead. There is also a nice fishing pier at the entrance of the campground and there are short trails along the river.
If you are in this area, the Chimney Rock hike is a must-do hike. Enjoy and don’t forget to take your camera.
From the North
From downtown Prineville, go south on Main Street. Main Street turns into State Highway 27 (Crooked River Road) and passes through ranch land in the Crooked River Valley. Approximately 10 miles from town, the river canyon narrows and the Federally-managed Wild and Scenic River stretch begins. Bowman Dam at Prineville Reservoir is the upper end of the Wild and Scenic River. The trip from Prineville to Bowman Dam is 22 miles.
From the South
From Bend, go east on State Road 20 for 31 miles to Highway 27 (Crooked River Road). The road is a well-maintained gravel road for the first 18 miles, then becomes paved. The trip from Highway 20 to Bowman Dam is 20 miles.