Chocolate Drops, as seen from the bottom of the
8.8 miles (round trip)
time: 5 hours
540 ft. loss/gain
Drops Trailhead: 5,460 ft.
Drops: 5,080 ft.
This is a slickrock trail, well marked by stone
Spring, early summer, and fall. This hike is very
hot in the summer and cold in the winter. The
best times are during the spring and fall. The
road to the trailhead may be impassible, even
with a 4WD, after a heavy snow or rain. For current
conditions call the Hans Flat Ranger Station,
Canyonlands National Park, at (801) 259-2652.
Canyonlands National Park, Maze District, near
shall we name those four unnamed formations
standing erect above this end of The Maze? From
our vantage point they are the most striking
landmarks.... In a far-fetched way they resemble
tombstones, or altars, or chimney stacks, or
stone tablets set on end."(Edward Abbey,
Desert Solitair, a Season in the Wilderness,
Simon & Schuster, New York, 1968)
Edward Abbey first wrote these words he was standing
on the Maze Overlook (page 217) looking at what
we now call the Chocolate Drops. The Maze has
since been protected as a part of Canyonlands
National Park, and consequently it is still possible
to share the feeling of wonderment that Abbey
must have experienced forty years ago.
The Chocolate Drops
formation consists of four vertical rectangular
shaped columns of Organ Shale that rise almost
200 feet above the ridge separating South Fork
Horse Canyon from Pictograph Fork Canyon. They
are one of the most prominent landmarks in the
Maze and can be seen from miles around. The trail
described here also passes by a half dozen other
pillars of Organ Shale on its way to the Chocolate
Drops. These formations are all part of an area
known as the Land of Standing Rocks.
the cairns from the parking area around the east
side of the large monolith beside the road, then
on towards the other spires farther out on the
plateau. All of these formations are the unlikely
remains of a 200-foot-thick layer of Organ Shale
that once covered Canyonlands. By now, however,
the unrelenting forces of erosion have almost
completely removed the crumbling rock from the
area, and only a few pinnacles of red shale still
remain. After about thirty minutes the trail passes
by the next group of Organ Shale formations, including
one particularly picturesque mound that is topped
by an enormous balanced rock. So precarious is
the capstone that it is hard to pass beneath it
without unconsciously walking a little faster.
From the balanced
rock to the first Chocolate Drop is about three
miles. The route is well marked with cairns and
not difficult to follow. It is generally an easy
walk across level ground, however at one point
some minor scrambling is necessary to get to the
bottom of a low spot on the ridge. If you look
to the right when you reach this point you will
find an easy way down the slickrock to the bottom
of the incline (about 50 feet lower), and beyond
this point there are no additional obstacles.
As you walk northward
along the ridge you can frequently peer into the
bottom of Pictograph Fork on your right. At one
point you can look directly down at the Harvest
Scene pictograph panel (page 218). From the trail
the panel is almost three-fourths of a mile away,
however-too far to recognize any of the pictographs.
When you finally reach the last Chocolate Drop
on the end of the plateau you will also have a
clear view of the trail down from the Maze Overlook.
provided by David
Day of utahtrails.com. Click here to order
his book Utah's
Favorite Hiking Trails.