Thursday, June 25, 2015

Photo Album of Chimney Rock Trail

Day hikers can walk around a 455-million-year-old rock formation that includes a 30-foot spire at the Chimney Rock Scientific and Natural Area in eastern Minnesota.

To reach Chimney Rock SNA, from downtown Hastings, take U.S. Hwy. 61 south. Turn right/west onto 205th Street. At Joan Avenue, go left/south. Look for a pullout on the road’s left/east side. Park in the pullout.

The unassuming trailhead is directly across the road (below). As with most Minnesota SNAs, public facilities are nonexistent, and Chimeny Rock is no different.

After a brief walk through a grove of trees, Chimney Rock appears alongside the trail (below). The spire – a rare sight in Minnesota – is an erosion-resistant remnant of sandstone consisting of sediment cemented over the eons as it settled at the bottom of a shallow tropical sea.

Back side of Chimney Rock (below).

The trail continues to the crown of a mesa of St. Peter sandstone (below) west of Chimney Rock.

The back (western) side of the mesa (below). The 0.1-mile trail loops around the block before rejoining the stem trail leading past Chimney Rock.

The mesa is about a half-mile square. Delicate formations, the mesa crown (below) and Chimney Rock are evidence that this area of Minnesota was not glaciated during the past 75,000 years; ice sheets certainly would have crushed and pushed away the sandstone.

Learn about trail guidebooks available in the Hittin’ the Trail series.