Grand Junction, CO: Crag Crest National Recreation Trail

Discover a wonderland of sparkling lakes, rolling meadows and spiny ridges on this 9.5-mile loop through Colorado’s magnificent Grand Mesa.
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Discover a wonderland of sparkling lakes, rolling meadows and spiny ridges on this 9.5-mile loop through Colorado’s magnificent Grand Mesa.

Climb to the highest point of the 500-square-foot Grand Mesa – the largest such landform in the world – and traverse through pine forests and wildflower-dotted meadows on this 9.5-mile loop through Grand Mesa National Forest. The counterclockwise route described here begins at the east trailhead near Eggleston Lake, but the trail can also be accessed from the west trailhead near mile marker 27 on CO 65. From Eggleston Lake, head north and bear right at the Y-junction at mile 0.2 to head past the western banks of Upper Eggleston Lake. Continue uphill at a mild grade before hitting the precipitous ascent (500 feet in 0.6 mile) to the Crag Crest ridgeline.
Traverse the Crest’s rocky, sometimes knife-edge spine while enjoying limitless 360-degree panoramas of the surrounding mountain country: the San Miguel, La Plata, San Juan, West Elk and La Sal ranges are all visible. After reaching the Crests’s high point (11,189 feet), continue heading west until hitting a 2.1-mile downhill just before mile 4. At waypoint 6, you’ll reach the junction for the west trailhead. Bear left to begin the trail’s lower section, which swings between thick forests of pine and aspen and bustling meadows of larkspur and bluebell. The grade from here is easy as you round out the remaining four miles to Eggleston Lake.
It is recommended to complete the Crest portion of the hike in the morning to avoid afternoon thunderstorms. Visit the National Forest Service’s Web site for more information and a map of Crag Crest National Recreation Trail.
-Mapped by Chris Hood

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 15.4

Waypoints

CCT001

Location: 39.048209, -107.937428

Start: Eggleston Lake trailhead. Parking available in dirt pullout next to lake.

CCT002

Location: 39.05006, -107.936441

Bear right at Y-junction to head toward Upper Eggleston Lake and Crag Crest.

CCT003

Location: 39.060116, -107.925782

Switchbacks leading to Crag Crest gain 500 feet over next 0.6 mile.

CCT004

Location: 39.059716, -107.965307

Begin a 2.1-mile descent.

CCT005

Location: 39.054918, -107.981787

Bear left at junction.

CCT006

Location: 39.045403, -107.992086

Bear left to stay on Crag Crest Trail. Right fork leads to CO 65 (0.2 mile).

Upper Eggleston Lake

Location: 39.052536, -107.932517

Pass Upper Eggleston Lake on your way to Crag Crest.

Butts Lake

Location: 39.061386, -107.927361

Snag views of Butts Lake to the southwest as you climb toward Crag Crest.

Crag Crest

Location: 39.062044, -107.935475

Enjoy 360-degree views while traversing Crag Crest's rocky spine.

Crags Crest Trail

Location: 39.06205, -107.935508

Crag Crest: Summit

Location: 39.060764, -107.942478

Reach Crag Crest's high point (11,189 feet).

Descending Crag Crest

Location: 39.059817, -107.957294

Butterfly and Wildflowers

Location: 39.046367, -107.983653

Lower Crag Crest Trail

Location: 39.046964, -107.982192

The trail's lower loop meanders through wildflower-dotted meadows.