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Coalpits Wash Trail, Zion National Park

Coal Pits Wash, a hiking trail in Zion National Park

  • When the first white settlers arrived in Zion, they mistook the old basalt flow on the western edge of Coalpits Wash for coal, thus the colorful but misleading name. Coalpits Wash is a lengthy backcountry drainage, reaching far back behind the Towers of the Virgin to the foot of the Bishopric. One of the more subtle hikes in Zion, Coalpits showcases low-desert plants and riparian communities, all under the shadow of distant towers and peaks. Perfect for a short morning hike or a multi-day winter adventure, Coalpits Wash offers serene open-desert beauty and remote Zion wilderness in its upper reaches.
  • Trailhead: From Springdale, drive west on State Route 9 past Rockville. A few miles past Rockville, look for a sign for “Coalpits Wash” on the right-hand side. Turn in to the dirt camping/parking maze and find the trailhead at the cattle gate.

    Mileage:
    2.8 miles (4.6 km), round-trip, to Chinle Trail
    16 miles (25.7 km), round-trip, to head of Coalpits Wash

    Elevation Gain:
    534 feet (162 m), round-trip, to Chinle Trail
    1050 feet (319 m), round-trip, to head of Coalpits Wash

    Approximate Hike Time:
    1.5 to 3 hours, round-trip, to Chinle Trail
    8 to 10 hours, round-trip, to head of Coalpits Wash

    Difficulty: Easy to moderate

    Crowds: This area has few visitors; you will likely hike alone.

  • Best Times of Day: During summer months, midday temperatures can be brutal. June through August, hike Chinle early in the morning (5 - 8 am), or late in the day (after 6pm). The trail is comfortable most of the day, October through April.

    Best Times of Year:
    Late fall through early spring are the best seasons to explore the Coalpits and Scoggins drainages.
  • Trailhead: From Springdale, drive west on State Route 9 past Rockville. A few miles past Rockville, look for a sign for “Coalpits Wash” on the right-hand side. Turn in to the dirt camping/parking maze and find the trailhead at the cattle gate.

    Mileage:
    2.8 miles (4.6 km), round-trip, to Chinle Trail
    16 miles (25.7 km), round-trip, to head of Coalpits Wash

    Elevation Gain:
    534 feet (162 m), round-trip, to Chinle Trail
    1050 feet (319 m), round-trip, to head of Coalpits Wash

    Approximate Hike Time:
    1.5 to 3 hours, round-trip, to Chinle Trail
    8 to 10 hours, round-trip, to head of Coalpits Wash

    Difficulty: Easy to moderate

    Crowds: This area has few visitors; you will likely hike alone.

  • Water Sources: Upper reaches of Coalpits Wash often flow with water, but this is not reliable. Plan to carry your own water for this hike, or check with the Backcountry Desk for up-to-date information. For your own safety, purify all water before drinking.

    Backpacking: The lower section of this trail (below the intersection of Coalpits and Scoggins Washes) is closed to camping. The upper portion of the trail, however, enjoys an “open camping” designation; good camp spots abound here. Out of courtesy to other hikers, please camp at least 200 yards away from any trail or water source. Overnight backcountry permits are available at the Visitor’s Center near Springdale.

    Car Camping: You may camping for free on the BLM land immediately outside the trailhead gate.