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Gunnison Route

Very Difficult
 4.4 (12)

A popular and challenging scramble to the river bottom far below.


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Map Key

0.6

Miles

1.0

KM

32%

Runnable

7,906' 2,410 m

High

6,329' 1,929 m

Low

0' 0 m

Up

1,577' 481 m

Down

46%

Avg Grade (25°)

74%

Max Grade (36°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features Fall Colors · River/Creek · Views

  • Wilderness permits are required to enter this route. They can be obtained at the visitor center.
  • Campfires are not permitted.
  • Poison ivy is present here. Wear long pants!

Runner Notes

Running is out of the cards for this steep and tricky scramble.

Description

This canyon scramble is the "easiest" and most popular of the Inner Canyon routes. The NPS even recommends it to visitors for their first inner-canyon run. Despite this, the unmaintained trail can be a formidable descent on a steep drainage that's covered in loose and shifting rocks and scree. At the bottom, there's an outhouse and spot for three campsites if you're inclined to stay overnight.

If the challenges of this run sound like an agreeable adventure, get your Wilderness Use Permit from the visitor center and make your way down the east side of the Oak Flat Trail loop. Look for the "River Access. Permit Required" sign to hone in on the start.

The Gunnison Route begins with a series of user-built braids that eventually all funnel down to a long chain about a third of the way down the descent. Take your time navigating the steep sections and be wary of the possible people below (calling out "rock" is a good idea if you send one hurtling downhill).

An 80-foot length of chain is anchored to a tree and provides a welcome aide through a particularly rough section. Continuing on, the tread alternates between loose talus rocks and gritty sand as the shifting scramble continues.

Once at the bottom, runners are welcomed by a narrow length of rocky shoreline perched on the edge of the rushing water. All around are dramatic cliffs and craggy outcroppings that are a salute to the 1,800 feet of tough descending it took to get here and a reminder that the only way back is the way you came.

Flora & Fauna

The waters of the Gunnison River are especially fine for fishing. A valid Colorado fishing license is required and there are specific regulations to fishing in the area. Find out more by visiting the NPS's fishing page.

Contacts

Shared By:

Eric Ashley

Trail Ratings

  4.4 from 12 votes

#2

in South Rim

#2349

Overall
  4.4 from 12 votes
5 Star
67%
4 Star
8%
3 Star
25%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Trail Rankings

#2

in South Rim

#292

in Colorado

#2,349

Overall
14 Views Last Month
2,384 Since Dec 16, 2016
Very Difficult

0%
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0%
42%
58%

Photos

Oak Flat trail.
Feb 18, 2016 near Montrose, CO

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