Have You Tried the ‘Other’ Trail on the Bookcliffs?
People came out in force over the Memorial Day weekend to hike Mt. Garfield. Given the number of people on the trail, I chose to search for another nearby hike. Have you tried this one?
Obviously, there are dozens of trails on the Bookcliffs. In this instance, I'm referring to one just off the trailhead in Palisade. It tends to go unnoticed.
Years and years ago one would hike Mt. Garfield via a trail on the west side by the old landfill. In recent years, most people hike the "east" trail which starts out a few thousand feet east of Mt. Garfield. Just east of that, though, is another trail, and it's awesome.
Most maps show this trail. Finding it, however, is not so easy. I only found it by accident.
My hike Saturday morning began at the trailhead. Roughly half way up, I cut back and took the trail to the old Gearhart Mine. From there, my course continued east.
A few hundred feet east of the mine I spotted the other trail making its way down the Bookcliffs. To date, I've never been able to find the trail from the ground. Looking at it from this perspective, though, it stood out like a sore thumb.
You might be saying, "No duh, Captain Obvious. This trail has been there forever." It has, but for some time now it has been difficult to find where it originates (for me, at least.)
Having found it, I can honestly say it's far more enjoyable than the main trail. It's a little more consistent, and you'll have it entirely to yourself.
How do you find it? All you have to do is park at the trailhead per normal. From the parking area, start walking straight east. Keep your shoulder to the fence running parallel to I-70. After a few hundred feet, the path will take you to the trail. The first part of the trail is rocky, and as a result, is difficult to see where the path is. That, plus the fact this part gets washed out whenever it rains, makes it difficult to spot the trail. Trust me, it's there.
Once you get past the first short incline, you've got it made. The hike is fun, fairly easy, and offers several excellent views.
There you go, another hiking option, all withing a few minutes of Grand Junction. This will take up about three hours of your time, and it's worth every second. If you need a break from Mt. Garfield, but still want to hike in the valley, this is an excellent choice.