“The steepest in the valley, 2K vert in 2 miles with amazing geology & possible wild horses.”
— Andrew Walters
Views · Wildlife
This is one steep pile of mud and rock! As long as it is dry and not blistering hot it is highly enjoyable. The view from the top is on par with flying into Grand Junction. Coming down you can let gravity do all the work.
Bentonite clay warning! Do not run in the rain, after a rainstorm or in melting snow conditions. You will have 6-8" of mud on your shoes, the ascent will be miserable and the descent will be unsafe.
From the parking area head out through the wooden fence and then go left towards the most obvious ridge. Ascend the ridiculously steep ridge staying directly on it and navigating occasional boulders. Near the top the ridge gives way to a steep boulder field with many competing lines to choose from. As the grade mellows out there is an unmarked junction. Follow the most obvious path as it heads left towards the first flat area. This clearing should be full of stud piles and is your best chance at seeing some of the wild horses in the area.
The flat doesn't last long and again you'll head right up and into a boulder field. Exit the boulder field to the left as the trail makes a gradual, sweeping ascent underneath the looming cliffs above. The trail will then climb up through a break in the cliff and continue to climb steeply along the cliffs edge. Once you are past a final scrambling section with lots of loose gravel atop bedrock the trail levels out and you can make better time as you approach the summit. There used to be a flagpole marking the summit, but a cairn and benchmark will let you know when you have reached it.
Take in the views, let your legs rest for a second and then get ready to fly back down. Keep your descent under control, especially on the lower part of the ridge near the parking area. Running in a serpentine fashion down the ridge will help you stay in control.
Flora & Fauna
This trail is part of the Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Area and wild horse sightings are possible. Even if you miss the horses, their huge piles of their poop will be evident (stud piles).
History & Background
There was once an old coal mine at the top of the first steep climb and much of the old equipment and cables can still be seen in the area.