Chimneys Trail

Ancient abstract images pecked into a dark rock face.
Look closely at the "chimneys." Indigenous peoples left behind images pecked into the rock face.


Quick Facts
12.2 miles from the northern end of the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive.

Cellular Signal, Parking - Auto, Parking - Bus/RV, Trailhead

Roundtrip Distance to the Chimneys: 4.8 miles (7.7 km)

One-way Distance to Old Maverick Road: 7.5 miles (12.0 km)
Elevation Change: 400 ft. (121m) (to the Chimneys)
Average Walking Time: 2.5 hours (to the Chimneys)

Dogs and other pets are not allowed on any trails in the park.

A 2.5-mile hike through desert grassland and across sandy washes will take you to a volcanic dike that stretches across the desert floor. Both pictographs (painted images) and petroglyphs (images carved into rock) decorate the southernmost chimney. The oldest images are several thousand years old. Barbed wire and fence posts mark the more recent ranching history.

Most people hike to the chimneys and back, a moderate 4.8-mile hike. However, the trail does continue beyond the chimneys for another 5.1 miles. This hike option is best if you have two vehicles or can arrange a pickup on the Old Maverick Road end of the trail.


The trail is rock and gravel with portions crossing sandy washes. For the most part, the Chimneys Trail is exposed with no reliable water along the route. If hiking from the road to the Chimneys, be aware that the trail is down on the way out and up on the way back.

A paved pullout at the trailhead provides parking for several vehicles.

Hike Smart
Bring plenty of water!
Carry 1 liter of water per person per hour that you plan to hike. The importance of carrying enough water in this hot, dry climate cannot be overstated!

Your body needs food for energy and salts and electrolytes to replace what it's losing from perspiration. The dry climate at Big Bend means that sweat often evaporates almost instantly; your body is likely losing lots of moisture and salts without you even realizing it. Eat plenty of salty snacks to keep your body's salt-to-water ratio in balance.

Sun protection
Carry sunscreen and use it liberally. Hats are also strongly recommended. It may seem strange to wear long-sleeved shirts and pants in hot weather, but many hikers choose lightweight, breathable clothing which covers their arms and legs to protect themselves from the sun. 

Don't leave people behind
If you're hiking in a group, make sure the person in the back always has someone to help.

Be aware of wildlife
Keep an eye out for snakes, and remember to maintain a safe distance between yourself and all wildlife. Animals in the park are wild and should never be approached, harrassed, or fed.

Don't stack rocks
Cairns are stacks of rocks which are sometimes used to mark trails in areas where they are hard to follow. Randomly stacked rocks can lure hikers off the correct trail.


Big Bend National Park

Last updated: April 2, 2021