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Rough Canyon Loop

 4.8 (5)
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4.5 Miles 7.3 Kilometers

1,070' 326 m


-1,067' -325 m



Avg Grade (5°)


Max Grade (28°)

6,193' 1,888 m


5,476' 1,669 m


Shared By Steven Knight


Minor Issues 21 days ago
Icy - Slippery in some steep areas while descending into Rough canyon History

Getting forecast...

A beautiful hike through the Rough Canyon Trail area.

Steven Knight

Dogs Leashed

Features River/Creek · Views · Waterfall

Open year-round but likely inaccessible during spring run-off.


This trail drops you into a beautiful canyon. The trail isn't too technical but it is energy sapping as it requires a lot of scrambling up and down over boulders as you are actually hiking through a creek bed for the spring runoff. The easy(er) return uses the Tabeguache Trail to come back.

Need to Know

If you are hiking this trail in the afternoon it's probably better to hike the Tabeguache Trail on the eastern side first so you aren't going uphill into the sun on your way back. On the western side (Rough Canyon Trail), you are down in a canyon and the sun isn't hitting you like it is on the eastern side. It's slow going in the canyon so the hike will take longer than expected. Bring extra water and bug spray. Dogs on leashes are allowed on this trail. If you have a smaller, older dog who isn't capable of scrambling and jumping, then you'll have to carry him/her at times.


From the trailhead, you have the option of taking the western route south into the canyon on the Rough Canyon Trail or the eastern route on the Tabeguache Trail which is actually a rocky off-road vehicle trail for those with high-clearance vehicles. You could also do an out and back just on the western route as it is the highlight of this trail. The Tabeguache Trail is a bail-out return and isn't technical but is difficult in that is all uphill for a couple of miles.

As you leave the parking area and enter the trailhead, hug the cliffs to the right until you reach the creek bed. From there you are just picking the best lines until you reach a marked parking area at the end of the canyon, roughly 2.5 miles from the start. About 1/4 mile before the parking lot, you'll arrive at a waterfall point; however, there is no water during the summer months. To see the waterfall you'd have to hike the Tabeguache Trail or use a high-clearance vehicle to arrive at the parking area during the spring when the snow is melting.

The views in the canyon are dramatic and beautiful, but at times it gets tight as obstacles that got pushed up when the water was moving through here get in your way. You'll find some pooled, stagnant water that will hold a few mosquitos, although it isn't too bad. When you arrive at the parking area, at the southern end of the loop, turn back north and hike uphill almost the entirety of the Tabeguache Trail back to the trailhead. If it's late afternoon, you'll have the sun in your face the whole way.


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Jun 26, 2018
Tucker Atwood
Mar 25, 2018
Brian Oliver
5mi — 2h 00m
Sep 10, 2017
Sav Shopay
Jul 22, 2017
Jay Puhler
May 6, 2017
Andy Stack

Trail Ratings

  4.8 from 5 votes


  4.8 from 5 votes
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in Colorado


63 Views Last Month
2,218 Since Sep 10, 2016
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Really great and lightly used trail right outside of GJ. The trail is pretty well established until you get down to the creek bed and then there’s many offshoot trails from others going off trail that take you up the sides of the canyon and right back down. If you try to stay as close the the creek bed as possible, you’ll save yourself a lot of hassle and it seems to be where the official trail goes. Expect some scrambling, some bigger rocks drops, and some brief exposure, but everything is safe and doable. It’s a slow hike down or up on the Rough Canyon side of the trail. You can take the Tabegauche back up if you’re just over it. Watch out for dirt bikes on Tabegauche. If you’re lucky you might get to see someone (almost) tip their Jeep on some big steeps on the way back. Mar 25, 2018

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