This Friday, November 17, is Take a Hike Day. Fortunately, you just happen to live in one of the ideal locations in the world from which to celebrate. Where will you find Grand Junctions best trails?
Not every hike has to be Mt. Garfield. Some of the best Western Colorado trails offer excellent hikes for almost any age and skill level. You'll need a decent pair of shoes, a light jacket, and a bottle of water. Are you ready?
For your consideration, these are five trails, all within a few minutes drive of Grand Junction, which would be perfect for a little getaway. Okay, one of them is a little challenging, but that still leaves you with four.
Gunny LoopLittle Park Road
Gunny Loop may just be the best of the best. It's accessible to just about anyone. There's no "climbing" involved. This is a well-established trail, complete with convenient parking and facilities. Along the way, you find several points of interest, including the dog graveyard and one of the best photo ops in all of Western Colorado.
Bangs Canyon Recreational AreaTop of Little Park Road
The Bangs Canyon Recreational Area may be one of the most overlooked trail systems in the region. Every time I go there I have the place to myself. The site offers several trail options including Quad Rocker and Roll Over Ridge. The trailhead features plenty of parking and facilities.
The novice hiker can enjoy each of the trails. Do keep your eyes open for a variety of enthusiasts enjoying this trail system. You'll encounter bicyclists, hikers, jogger, dog walker, quad runners, and in some cases off-road drivers.
Palisade RimEast of Palisade
The Palisade Rim trail is a perfect combination of scenery and hiking. It's not the easiest hike in the valley but is accessible to most. You do cover quite a bit of elevation is a short space and time.
Upon reaching the top, you're in for a treat. The scenery is magnificent. When you reach the first plateau, you have the option of continuing onward or taking the trail around the back way and returning to the trailhead. The shorter hike is plenty.
Eagle's WingLittle Park Road
Eagle's Wing is one of the best-kept secrets in Western Colorado. It's an extremely easy hike offering plenty of scenery and a ton of privacy. You might bump into another human being, then again you might not.
It's a little difficult to find. Follow this link to locate a convenient parking place. Be sure to stay on the trail until you reach the summit. You'll arrive at a rock structure overlooking both the valley to the north and the canyon to the south.
Okay, this one is not so easy. Then again, it's really just a hike. There's no actual "climbing" involved. This is a 2,000 ft. ascent, and can really get your legs to burning.
My average time up the mountain is about an hour and a half. I hiked it the other day with a gentleman who says his average time is 40 minutes. Trust me when I say you can come down the mountain a LOT faster than going up.
You'll need to be in pretty good shape to make this one. Many people turn around at the plateau about halfway up. Unfortunately, what the don't realize is the first half is the bad half. After the plateau, it's mostly a nice little walk in the country. Stay with it. Keep going until you reach the summit. Once there, you'll enjoy seeing the new flag.
The trailhead to Mt. Garfield is easy to find if you know where you're going.