Grand Junction, CO: Black Ridge Trail

Take in far-reaching vistas of high peaks and russet canyons on this 5.4-mile shuttle hike in Colorado National Monument.
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Take in far-reaching vistas of high peaks and russet canyons on this 5.4-mile shuttle hike in Colorado National Monument.

The Black Ridge Trail—Colorado National Monument's highest trail—offers views in every direction along its 5.4-mile course. Look for the rugged, 14,000-foot peaks of the San Juan Mountains on the southern horizon. Grand Junction, the Grand Valley, and the Book Cliffs are ever-present to the east and north beyond the Monument’s steep-walled canyons. In late spring, the high desert gains new shades of green as native grasses come up between the piñon and juniper—blooming Indian paintbrush also add splashes of crimson to the brown-and-green landscape. Hike this scenic route north to south for a steady climb, or start at the southern end for a leisurely, 900-foot descent to the visitor center.
Mapped by Genny Wright, Jenn Fields, and Tim Shisler

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 8.7

Waypoints

MON001

Location: 39.1012344360352, -108.735198974609

From the visitor center, cross Rim Rock Drive to reach the trailhead. Pass a gate, then hike up a gravel road on the Black Ridge Trail.

MON002

Location: 39.1007804870606, -108.737098693848

Leave the gravel road, and continue straight (southwest) on dirt trail.

MON003

Location: 39.0988159179688, -108.740425109863

The trail begins to get steep here; prepare for some switchbacks ahead.

MON004

Location: 39.0999145507812, -108.741340637207

Pass through a break in a wire fence. The trail levels and heads to the northwest.

MON005

Location: 39.1003379821777, -108.741790771484

To the right of the trail is a small lookout point with views of distant cliffs. Ahead, trail bends to the west.

MON006

Location: 39.1004371643066, -108.74439239502

Continue straight on the trail as it curves around to the left, passing a trail sign; head south.

MON007

Location: 39.098087310791, -108.74634552002

The trail hugs a cliff; try to enjoy the views while watching your step.

MON008

Location: 39.0971984863281, -108.747512817383

Trail levels and continues southwest; short evergreen trees along the path offer some shade.

MON009

Location: 39.0947456359863, -108.750900268555

Pass under telephone wires and hike south.

MON010

Location: 39.0913772583008, -108.749206542969

Follow the trail to the right around a giant mud puddle.

MON011

Location: 39.0896987915039, -108.748519897461

Trail narrows to a ridgewalk for about 100 feet.

MON012

Location: 39.0836334228516, -108.74146270752

Pass under powerlines and walk through the gate that marks the Colorado National Monument boundary.

MON013

Location: 39.0812034606934, -108.734748840332

Continue straight at the junction with the CCC Trail.

MON014

Location: 39.0788459777832, -108.736968994141

Trail passes potential campsites on the left. Continue heading south.

MON015

Location: 39.0641784667969, -108.737113952637

Cross wash below antennas.

MON016

Location: 39.0585060119629, -108.736503601074

Bear right @ Y-junction; continue south.

MON017

Location: 39.055908203125, -108.738105773926

Cross Rim Rock Road to reach trailhead parking, or retrace steps back to Waypoint 1.

First Switchback

Location: 39.098876953125, -108.740898132324

Looking up trail after first switchback.

Colorado National Monument Boundary

Location: 39.0997352600098, -108.741218566895

View to the Southwest

Location: 39.1006317138672, -108.742835998535

Trail Sign

Location: 39.1004371643066, -108.74437713623

Easy Stretch

Location: 39.0971794128418, -108.747436523438

Mud Puddle

Location: 39.0913963317871, -108.749130249023

Black Ridge Trail

Location: 39.0901718139648, -108.748397827148

The trail narrows ahead.

Views into Devils Canyon

Location: 39.089168548584, -108.748733520508

Colorado National Monument Boundary

Location: 39.0836563110352, -108.741416931152

Final Uphill Climb

Location: 39.0797119140625, -108.736694335938