Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth fitness, nutrition, and adventure courses and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+ Sign up for Outside+ today.
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
- Distance: 11.7
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Location: 39.5615973, -107.2498691
An information kiosk marks the beginning of the trail on the west side of the parking area.
Location: 39.5634948, -107.2507324
There are several picnic tables on the banks of the river, perfect spots for an afternoon snack.
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.
Location: 39.5761174, -107.2534358
In the morning, this bench is shaded and offers a great place to sit and watch the river.
Location: 39.5838797, -107.2584617
Taking a break from a mid-day flight, this small bat rests on a trailside tree.
Location: 39.5848907, -107.2593044
The trail skirts the river most of the way.
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.
Location: 39.598686, -107.263903
Cottonwood and other moisture-loving plants line the trail.
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.
Location: 39.606614, -107.2718811
Picking your way down a rocky slope at trail end will lead to this small fall-fed pool.