Glenwood Springs, CO: Grizzly Creek

Stretch your legs on all--or just part--of this 3.6-mile trail that climbs steadily alongsideGlenwood Canyon's Grizzly Creek. The only bear here is the 1,800 foot gain in elevation.
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Stretch your legs on all--or just part--of this 3.6-mile trail that climbs steadily alongsideGlenwood Canyon's Grizzly Creek. The only bear here is the 1,800 foot gain in elevation.

Hike as much or as little of this 3.6-mile trail as you want for a circulation-boosting break from the long haul on I-70. One of only a few hiking opportunities off Glenwood Canyon, this trail follows Grizzly Creek from it’s junction with the Colorado River to a diversion dam and pipeline that carry water to Glenwood Springs. With the exception of one rugged 50-foot stretch a few hundred feet from the trailhead, the first half-mile of wide path is level and lined by several table-equipped picnic spots. As the trail continues into the canyon, steep walls encroach and you’ll skirt talus slopes and rocky slides—watch for big horn sheep—with increasing frequency as the climbing intensifies after mile 1.5. Continue on the easy-to-follow path uphill between the river banks and steep cliffs. There is one set of short switchbacks and a grove of old aspen at the saddle just before the trail ends at some dip-worthy pools below the diversion pipeline.
The trail runs alongside the cool creek its entire length and is often shaded by riparian shrubs and giant pine and cottonwood. Though they disrupt efforts at fly casting, they frame worthwhile river views on even short out-and-backs along this trail.
-Mapped by Kristy Holland

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 11.7

Waypoints

GRZ001

Location: 39.5615666, -107.2498012

Restroom facilities, water and Colorado River are accessible in the parking area on the south side of the freeway, but the trail takes off from this smaller lot on it's north side.

GRZ002

Location: 39.5761225, -107.2534704

The first several miles of trail are relatively flat and climb gradually alongside the river, but the relief on both sides of the creek is impressive. Stop at this bench just past mile 1 and look up to the cliffs about 1,700 feet above the creek's west side.

GRZ003

Location: 39.5841004, -107.2583996

Though the trail traces the river most of the way, there are also some wooded sections above its banks. On the far side of this wooded patch the trail cruises an old rockfall.

GRZ004

Location: 39.6016276, -107.2677592

As you climb, you'll occasionally move east, away from the river and into the forest. These two shaded (and short) switchbacks at mile 3.25 are the only sharp turns on this entire route. Though, by this point you'll be tired of the uphill gain.

GRZ005

Location: 39.6055642, -107.2716933

An open grove of large, initial-scarred aspen mark the top of the final hill just a few hundred feet from this route's end-point pools.

GRZ006

Location: 39.606647, -107.2719026

Though the trail appears to end with a short downhill past a cave, if you continue north, scrambling over rocks, you'll find a great, secluded swimming hole guarded by prickly berry bushes.

Trailhead

Location: 39.5615973, -107.2498691

An information kiosk marks the beginning of the trail on the west side of the parking area.

Picnic Areas

Location: 39.5634948, -107.2507324

There are several picnic tables on the banks of the river, perfect spots for an afternoon snack.

Family Fun

Location: 39.5655914, -107.2511486

The early stretches of trail are flat and mellow enough for families, a perfect way to interrupt an I-70 drive.

Bench

Location: 39.5761174, -107.2534358

In the morning, this bench is shaded and offers a great place to sit and watch the river.

Bat

Location: 39.5838797, -107.2584617

Taking a break from a mid-day flight, this small bat rests on a trailside tree.

River

Location: 39.5848907, -107.2593044

The trail skirts the river most of the way.

Rocks

Location: 39.5983347, -107.263583

The trail crosses several rock falls, one reason that the Grizzly Creek pipeline was rebuilt and diverted underground in the late 1990s.

Berries

Location: 39.598686, -107.263903

Cottonwood and other moisture-loving plants line the trail.

Cave

Location: 39.6066653, -107.2719104

Near the end of the trail you'll pass this small cave. If you climb over the rocks, to it's right, there's a better dipping pool ahead.

Pool

Location: 39.606614, -107.2718811

Picking your way down a rocky slope at trail end will lead to this small fall-fed pool.