Staunton SP

Staunton SP

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Rim Rock > Oak Flat>Uplands Loop, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

















Rim Rock > Oak Flat>Uplands Loop
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Date Hiked: August 30, 2007

Distance: 3 mi (RT)
Rim Rock - .5 mi (OW)
Oak Flat - 2 mi (RT)
Uplands - .5 mi (OW)

Managing Agency: National Park Service
Fee: Yes, $15

Black Canyon Trail Map (NPS)

Directions:  The South Rim of Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is located north of Hwy 50 in between Gunnison and Montrose.  From either direction, turn north on 347 at the sign for the park.

The Rim Rock trail follows the South Rim from the campground to the Visitor Center.  The trail is easy but has amazing views east over the canyon towards Curecanti National Recreation Area.  There is a trail head and parking area along the main road and this makes for a great place to start the loop.  Once you reach the Visitor Center keep your eyes out for the Oak Flat Trail.

The Oak Flat Trail is the main event and makes for a great 2 mi hike itself.  From the Visitor Center follow the signs pointing to Oak Flat Loop/River Access.  The trail descends down the canyon through oak and evergreen forest there are numerous viewpoints of the canyon through the trees.  When you reach the River Access sign...stop...  This is one of the backcountry routes down to the bottom of the canyon, it is very very very steep, make sure you do your homework before attempting these routes.

After you've completed the loop and are heading back towards the Visitor Center, you'll see signs for the Uplands Trail.  This trail will take you back to the flatlands, across the brush through gamble oaks and other vegetation and back to the parking area and your car.  There are not many views here, but the wide open spaces makes for a peaceful return trip.

This is the main trail system on the South Rim and aside from the Warner Nature Trail is the only hiking available.  For more hikes, try the North Rim, it's more remote and lacks the facilities but there are more opportunities for hiking and wilderness.




































Devil's Backbone, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

















Devil's Backbone
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Date Hiked: August 30, 2007

Distance: 1 mi (RT) or more on backcountry routes
Elevation: 6,547ft
Managing Agency: National Park Service
Fee: Yes, $15

Black Canyon Hiking Trails Page (NPS)
Black Canyon Backcountry Routes Map (NPS)

Directions:  The South Rim of Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is located north of Hwy 50 in between Gunnison and Montrose.  From either direction, turn north on 347 at the sign for the park.

The Devil's Backbone Trail is the only trail along the Gunnison River that does not require you to take one of the steep, steep, steep inner canyon routes to reach.  The trail starts from the East Portal Trailhead.  The 1st .5 mi or so of the trail is easy enough.  It is a pleasant river-side stroll with the ever narrowing canyon walls towering on either side.  When the trail starts to head up the south wall of the canyon, things get fun...

The route climbs up a diamond shaped ridge called the Devil's Backbone.  The climb requires scrambling and route finding.  It can be difficult to find your way as the route itself is not clearly defined.  There are some wonderful viewpoints here, but be careful.  If you find your way across the Devil's Backbone, you can pick your way into the canyon for another mile or two until it gets so steep and narrow that you need to stop.

This is a terrific way to get a close up view of the Canyon and the Gunnison River but it is not easy and you should not attempt this trail alone.