Fruita, CO (outside Grand Junction)
As with most of Colorado, the weather has been rainy here in Grand Junction with showers and thunderstorms often in the forecast. But Wednesday dawned with sunny skies predicted to last into the late afternoon, so we set off to hike the Corkscrew Trail Loop. This hike begins at the Wildwood Trailhead, about six miles south of the west entrance to the Colorado National Monument. The loop begins on the Lower Liberty Cap Trail, which goes along a flat area for about a quarter mile, then sharply up 700 ft. for another three quarter mile.
After about a mile the trail reaches a junction with two options. Turn left and you head toward the Corkscrew Trail for the return loop. But turn to the right and you can continue to climb up for another seven tenths of a mile to the Liberty Cap. This trail is a bit steep in places but is not difficult.
While much of this trail is rocky, parts are fairly flat over packed soil.
At one point we came to the only water crossing on this hike. But with our vast hiking experience we didn’t have any difficulty crossing it.
Soon we arrived at the trail junction at Liberty Cap. From here you can continue for another five miles on the Upper Liberty Cap Trail, but our plan was to return back down to the last trailhead and join the Corkscrew Trail.
At Liberty Cap we enjoyed great views to our east and west. The view to the east was of the city of Grand Junction and surrounding communities. We could even see the Starbucks we frequented in the distance!
The view to the west looked right acrosss Ute Canyon to the mesa that is the main part of the Colorado National Monument.
After lunch it was time to head back down the seven tenths of a mile hike to the junction point.
Returning to the junction point we continued on to the Corkscrew Trail. This is one of the oldest trails and was built with pick and shovel by John Otto, one of the first settlers to see the beauty of what is now the Colorado National Monument.
Once down and back on the flat part of the trail near the trailhead we turned back and could now identify Liberty Cap in the distance.
Later that afternoon we met up with Ingrid and Al (Live Laugh RV), fellow full-timers who we met for the first time earlier this year in Apache Junction, AZ. We enjoyed a cold glass of Porter, some good food, and great conversation at the Suds Brothers Brewery here in Fruita.
After dinner the skies cleared, so we headed up into Colorado National Monument to check out the views. From the west entrance to the monument the road (build with pick, shovel, and blasting powder by the CCC) winds up a thousand feet to the top of a wide mesa.
As we rounded a curve going up, some sharp eyes in the passenger seat spotted the tell-tale white markings on the rear end of a Bighorn up in the rocks.
It’s very difficult to spot these animals unless they move their butts since the rest of them blends into the surroundings. Fortunately, this fellow turned around just after we spotted him.
It was beginning to get dark so we didn’t drive very far up the scenic road. But we were able to get a great view of Independence Rock below us. We posted an earlier blog describing our hike to the base of this cool monolith.
We only have a few more days here outside Grand Junction and are hoping the weather clears a bit so we can enjoy all the beauty in the area. There are a number of hikes and drives we want to complete before we move to the east.
More on that later . . .