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black Mount Garfield Trail

  4.3 ( 19 )

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3.6 mile 5.7 kilometer loop


Ascent: 1,906' 581 m
Descent: -1,904' -580 m
High: 6,723' 2,049 m
Low: 4,852' 1,479 m


Avg Grade: 20% (11°)
Max Grade: 63% (32°)


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Trail shared by Andrew Walters

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Current trail conditions

Minor Issues 67 days ago See History
Mostly Dry - Snowy spots towards the top

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The steepest in the valley, 2K vert in 2 miles with amazing geology & possible wild horses.

Andrew Walters

Features Views · Wildlife


This is one steep pile of mud and rock! As long as it is dry and not blistering hot it is highly enjoyable. The view from the top is on par with flying into Grand Junction. Coming down you can let gravity do all the work.


From the parking area head out through the wooden fence and then go left towards the most obvious ridge. Ascend the ridiculously steep ridge staying directly on it and navigating occasional boulders. Near the top the ridge gives way to a steep boulder field with many competing lines to choose from. As the grade mellows out there is an unmarked junction. Follow the most obvious path as it heads left towards the first flat area. This clearing should be full of stud piles and is your best chance at seeing some of the wild horses in the area.

The flat doesn't last long and again you'll head right up and into a boulder field. Exit the boulder field to the left as the trail makes a gradual, sweeping ascent underneath the looming cliffs above. The trail will then climb up through a break in the cliff and continue to climb steeply along the cliffs edge. Once you are past a final scrambling section with lots of loose gravel atop bedrock the trail levels out and you can make better time as you approach the summit. There used to be a flagpole marking the summit, but a cairn and benchmark will let you know when you have reached it.

Take in the views, let your legs rest for a second and then get ready to fly back down. Keep your descent under control, especially on the lower part of the ridge near the parking area. Hiking in a serpentine fashion down the ridge will help you stay in control.

Flora & Fauna

This trail is part of the Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Area and wild horse sightings are possible. Even if you miss the horses, their huge piles of their poop will be evident (stud piles).

History & Background

There was once an old coal mine at the top of the first steep climb and much of the old equipment and cables can still be seen in the area.


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Apr 17, 2019
Michael Hagen
Awesome hike. Much more interesting than I anticipated. — 1h 52m
Feb 9, 2019
Steven Schiff
Nice conditions! Beautiful view, fun climb. Worth the time. 3.6mi — 2h 21m
Feb 9, 2019
Wally K
Dry until the Mesa witch is covered with a little snow. 4.3mi
Oct 27, 2018
Malia Ford
Oct 21, 2018
Devon Pollack
Aug 25, 2018
Samuel Floyd
Amazing views throughout the whole trail, hike/ran up it twice. 7.8mi — 1h 53m
Aug 7, 2018
Tyler Hincy
Longest 4 mike trail I’ve ever done ! 3.8mi
May 13, 2018
Machelle Williams

Trail Ratings

  4.3 from 19 votes


in Palisade


  4.3 from 19 votes
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183 Views Last Month
2,973 Since Jul 14, 2015
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Checked off my bucket list 08-24-17 while visiting Grand Jct. where my wife grew up. Got a so-so early start & luckily for me was overcast almost complete hike! Had hiking boots with me but opted to wear fairly worn low tops which were OK going up but kept sliding out from under me on the way down, causing ‘butt bruises’. Made the mistake of taking SECOND trail up from the approach, a BIG MISTAKE! At one point I was on all fours (but not knees) to make headway in a very exposed narrow very steep incline with crusty top that when broken through was very loose underneath. Saw two wild horses & numerous dung piles. The trail is very hard to follow in some places but just keep going up & finally reach the top mesa. The view over the valley from the flagpole is great! My Fit Bit recorded 170 ‘floors’. Quads fatigued near end of descent & required rest breaks. Dec 13, 2017
chris V  
In the morning would be best, lots of cardio steep hills and rocky trail, good hiking shoes are a must. Slippery areas on the dirt so be careful. Mar 9, 2018

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