Features: Birding — Fall Colors — Geyser — Spring — Views — Wildflowers — Wildlife
I have run this trail dozens of times. There are several different routes and I will try to post them all, but this is the one I run most. I would say about 90% runnable for me. I also have long legs to get over big rocks and obstacles. No matter if you are a hiker, runner, or speedster this is a great trail to enjoy the western slope sunshine!
This trail has several switchbacks and splits, but they all end up on one artery going up. If you are following this map then you want to be on the lookout for the branch of the trail the splits off and heads back west. As you are heading up the main route, you'll cross a pretty significant area covered in boulders and steep climbs. As these boulders go away and you get back to more gravel, you'll want to look for the small shrub on your left hand side. It resembles a small Christmas tree. Some people stack rocks here as well, but there is a branch off the main that leads back and through a small canyon and up onto the flats of the east side of Mt. Lincoln.
It is here you'll find the singletrack with a very sandy bottom. It will lead through a clearing and a rocky area where the trail goes away. Keep your eyes open and follow the stacks of rocks, and you'll come out of the rocky bed and back on the trail. It is here where the North Stagecoach Trail
branches off. There is a small climb along the edges of the mountain overlooking I-70 with views of the main canyon area.
Eventually, you'll come up a Y in the trail. If you go left, you'll eventually end up at the same spot (the flag). If you stay right, you'll come upon a fairly steep climb leading back up to another flat top area and the rest of the trail. This trail continues for about another mile to mile and half.
The trail then winds down and through a small gully, and then opens up to a steep boulder/rocky ridge. It is here the real climbing begins. That’s right, head up the steep rocks (thankfully they are fairly smooth and easy footing, it’s just STEEP). Once you get to the top, take a minute to catch your breath and look over the edge! It’s amazing!
Once up the steep, rocky area, look off east and you should easily spot where the trail continues. Staying on this trail will allow you to run about a half mile high above Palisade right on the edge, seeing the whole town! Eventually, you'll end up at the flag pole with amazing views! From here, you can enjoy the views and take your time before head down. As you stand at the flag, you can view where the trail goes downhill.
Now the fun! It’s an amazingly manageable downhill. There are areas of soft rocks and loose rocks so always be aware of your footing. After some fun downhill, you come back to the trail you came up. From here, enjoy the smooth run back to the bottom!
Sections of the trail has some active coal seams. On a cold morning or humid day you can smell and see the steam rising from cracks in the ground. I have seen coyotes near the rocky climb. Deer frequent the canyons, and there are lots of horse droppings. Be aware that mountain lions are very active here. I have never seen one but reports are frequent.