Exploring Colorado’s Beautiful Old Spanish Trail and the Gunnison Bluffs
Grand Junction, we have finally been able to shake loose from the clutches of the winter of 2022-2023. Now that we have had our first couple of 80-degree days on the western slope, let the spring hikes begin.
The Colorado sunshine is warming up the Old Spanish Trail near Grand Junction. These scenic trails are a great place to explore in the spring before the summer heat arrives. You won't find any shade while hiking to the Gunnison River, so it's a good idea to explore this area in April and May.
Finding the Old Spanish Trail in Whitewater
One of the easiest places to jump on the Old Spanish Trail is near Whitewater. Take Highway 50 to 31 Road as if you are going to the landfill. You'll pass it and find the Whitewater parking area on the West side of the road. The parking area is well-marked with plenty of spaces.
Hiking to the Gunnison River Bluffs
Two loops right next to each other make up this portion of the Old Spanish Trail and the Gunnison Bluffs Trail. With all the different bike trails that have been created over the years, you'll find about 10 different ways to go back and forth from the river. Having a simple navigation app like Alltrails or something similar will help you get around if you have never been hiking here before. The entire Gunnison Bluffs loop is either 6 miles or 4 miles depending on which path you follow. Head to the left from the parking area for the shortest distance to the Gunnison River.
Keep an Eye Out for Hidden Rock Shelters
When I first walked this trail last year I missed every one of the hidden rock shelters that are up in the bluffs overlooking the river. Keep an eye out starting at about the 2.5-mile mark on the trail, and you'll see openings in the rocks that are a great place to wait out a passing shower.