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Name: Chimney Rock Author's Rating:
Author: Matt Marine Avg. User Rating: (based on six user votes)
Type: 4WD Difficulty: (Demanding 4WD)
Time: 4 - 6 hours Region: SE Arizona
Length: 10.0 miles (one way) Elevation gain/loss/change: +995 / -627 ft / +368 ft (one way)
Type: Through Trail (or modified loop) Avg Elevation: 4000 ft
Best time to go: fall, spring, winter Fees: NA
Fitness rating: Low Educational Merit: Low
Danger/fear rating: Medium Scenic Beauty: High
Hours of Operation: NA Last updated: February, 2009
Short Description: A great 4WD trail to a unique rock feature
Geocaches:Tons of cool geocaches around. Here's just a few. Chimney Rock. Need a Pen. The Lake. Bollota Ranch
References / Contact Information: Guide to Arizona Backroads & 4-Wheel Drive Trails, page 239
Points of interest: Chimney Rock. Working old-fashioned windmill
Special Considerations: Make sure you keep on the designated trail, especially around the Chimney Rock area. We want to keep this beautiful sight open for our children too! The rock sections along the wash and the steep climbs out can be difficult for stock 4WD without proper clearance
How to get there: Take Tanque Verde road east, past the turnoff to Mt. Lemmon (Catalina Highway), until it turns to dirt and starts climbing up through Redington Pass. Zero trip odometer. The road is now called Redington Rd. Keep driving on Redington Rd. past Tanque Verde Falls parking areas and Chiva Falls entrances. Redington Rd. has green mile markers, pay attention to them, but don’t count on them being correct. They do not match either my truck’s odometer or my GPS mileage calculations. At approximately 7 miles from the start of dirt road, look for a road on the left that states Bollota Ranch HQ. This is where you’ll be coming out of when you’re done with the trail. This is also the entrance to the “front door” to Chimney Rock if you don’t want to do the entire trip. At mile marker 17.5 (13.9 miles from the start of dirt road), look for FR4430 going up a short hill on the left. This is the trailhead. Click here for directions

Trail Description

Chimney Rock is a unique feature in the rolling foothills of Redington Pass east of Tucson. The trail is a moderate to demanding 4WD trail which takes you to the “back entrance” of Chimney Rock.

General Information and History

Chimney Rock is a tall spire of rock (granite?) reaching toward the sky near Bollota Ranch about 20 miles east of Tucson in Redington Pass. To me, Chimney Rock is a misnomer. The rock looks more like the profile of a stately Native American than a narrow chimney. The immediate area around Chimney Rock is strewn with interesting geological features, rounded rock hills, cave-like hollows and muddy pits. It’s a great place to explore and have a picnic lunch. Kids especially enjoy Chimney Rock.

Chimney Rock itself can be climbed without any special gear. It’s about 75-100 feet high. All it takes is good shoes, nerves of steel and fortitude. The best path to climb up is along the spine on the west side of the rock. You can make it up to the top where you will find rock climbing and repelling hooks. When I climb up and down, I am usually on all fours. The view from on top is spectacular!

If you don’t want to take the trail as described, you can also access Chimney Rock through the “front door” or the west. In dry weather, all you need from this side is a 2wd truck or high clearance vehicle. The 1 mile trail from Bollota Ranch Rd. is easy when the road is dry. If it is wet, this area can become a mud bog. One of the few places in Arizona that I’ve seen like this.

One special note about the Chimney Rock area: In the past few years many ATVs and 4-wheelers have been “making their own trails” among the rocks surrounding Chimney Rock. Please, don’t do this. Not only is it illegal, but it scars up the beautiful area. I have no doubt if it continues, the Forest Service will close the area and no one will be able to enjoy it. If this continues, it is only a matter of time before the area is shutdown.

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The Trail

The trail winds its way through some shallow foothills and narrow rock washes. After about 0.7 miles (at Bull Spring), keep right on FR4438. A left will take you on FR4430. After another 0.3 miles, you’ll see a working windmill on your left as you come down a hill next to a small rock dam. It’s an old Chicago Aermotor model, but still in good shape. You’ll also see a solar panel part the way up the adjacent hill. I believe this powers the pump when there isn’t enough wind to turn the mill.

Where does the water go? It appears the windmill pumps the water to a large concrete tank that’s just beyond the next hill. Don’t worry, you’ll see it just after passing through the next gate along the road.

After the tank, you’ll enter a rock wash with some moderately challenging rock crawling and you’ll also pass some huge cottonwood trees with so many trunks they look like upturned octopi.

Then you’ll switch between going up and down the hills to going along the wash. After 2.7 miles, you’ll come to a difficult downhill. The line on the right is the easiest. At 2.9 miles, take a left on a short (100 yard) spur to the large pool of water. This pool usually has a good supply of water. I’ve actually seen it running a few times. Climb up on the rock for a good view.

Continue on the road until mile 4.4 when you turn left on FR4431 and drive up the steep section of the trail. A right here takes you on another part of FR4431 up to Alamo Spring. I’ve only been on once a long time ago. At that time, it was difficult and ended after a mile or two on top of a small hill. Nothing too interesting on it.

Drive on FR4431 for a little more than 1 mile (don’t forget to take a long distance gander at Chimney Rock at Waypoint 027) until you reach the base of Chimney Rock. You can drive up next to it, but PLEASE don’t drive on all the rocks. Again, let’s help preserve this site for our children. But, by all means, explore the rocks on foot. Climb Chimney Rock on the west side, but be careful! Have lunch and enjoy the shade.

When you’re done, get back on the main trail and head east, through the gate (not the gate right next to Chimney Rock—that’s for horses). Continue on this trail for about a mile (keeping out of the mud pits) until you reach Bollota Ranch Rd. Go through the gate and take a left.

Keep driving for another 3 miles until you reach Redington Rd. Remember the sign I told you to look for on your way here, well you’re there! Take a right and head back to town.

After experiencing Chimney Rock, you’ll have done some great four-wheeling and maybe even some rock climbing. It’s well worth the trip.

Have fun and be safe.

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Member Comments

Big Ledge

6/10/14: I did Chimney Rock last weekend and the whole area was very cool to hike around but the backdoor was inaccessible by my XJ on a 4.5 inch lift and 31's as about 5 minutes in (from east entrance) right after the first gate, there's a ledge with an angle too extreme for me to make it down. this may change, but at the moment, a pretty serious lift or tire size would be needed for most vehicles.

Shot up Explorer

5/7/2013: Hey Matt, just did this trail on 4/27/13. Great trail and has some very technical areas. On the very steep hill, there is a abandoned Ford Explorer that people have shot up and stripped. Looks like they blew a tire and rolled the truck. This hill is tricky and could be dangerous...be very careful. Saw lots of wildlife; Gila Monster, Whitetail and Mule deer, Cooper's hawk.

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