This loop hike starts at Devil’s Kitchen Campground, follows the bottom of a rift valley, climbs over the Pinnacle – an amalgamation of needles – skirts along the edge of Chesler Park, then descends through a different gap in the Pinnacle.
On the way back, views of the La Sal Mountains and Elephant Canyon open up before the trail returns to Devil’s Kitchen.
- Distance: 6 miles
- Hike Time: 3-4 hours
- Elevation Gain/Loss: 500 feet
- Fee: $10 per vehicle. You also need a day-use permit for Elephant Hill
- Dogs: No
- Difficulty: Moderate
From Devil’s Kitchen, walk eastward along the dirt road until you reach the trailhead. Here you have the option to head south or continue east. This is a loop hike so you can go either way, but in this hiking guide I’ll cover the southerly direction.
The single track footpath runs along the flat bottom of a canyon formed by faults on either side. In the distance, there is a disarray of needlelike rocks. These magnificent sandstone spires are what give Needles District its name.
After 1.2 miles, the trail starts an abrupt climb to the top of a saddle, before descending into another canyon on the other side. At 1.7 miles, you’ll reach a junction. Bear left here, then continue up the steep slick rock sandstone.
About a half mile climb from the junction, you’ll see your first views of Chesler Park – a grassy meadow in the desert, surrounded by bizarre needles.
At around 3 miles into the hike, you’ll reach another junction at a particularly sandy portion of trail. Bear left here to climb back over the Pinnacle. However, be sure to take pause at the top to soak in the incredible view.
Once you’ve reached bottom at the other side of the Pinnacle, you’ll hit another junction. The path to your right takes you to Druid Arch. Bear left to continue toward Devil’s Kitchen.
From this point, the trail meanders along the edge of a prominent ridge to the left, with views of Elephant Canyon to the right.
Finally, 5.5 miles into the hike, the trail finds a gap in the ridge, descending into a narrow canyon that leads you back to the trailhead.
Devil’s Kitchen is located 3.5 miles from Elephant Hill Trailhead and can be reached by a technical 4WD road over Elephant Hill, by foot, or by mountain bike.
If you intend to drive it, make sure you know what you’re doing! Driving over Elephant Hill is only reserved for experienced off road experts with capable rigs.
To reach Elephant Hill Trailhead from Moab, take U.S. Route 191 southbound for 39.6 miles then turn right onto Utah State Route 211. Continue for 37.2 miles then turn left and follow signs for Elephant Hill.