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dblack Gunnison Route


0.6 mile 1.0 kilometer point to point
Extremely Difficult


Ascent: 0' 0 m
Descent: -1,577' -481 m
High: 7,906' 2,410 m
Low: 6,329' 1,929 m


Avg Grade: 46% (25°)
Max Grade: 74% (36°)


No Dogs
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Trail shared by Eric Ashley

A popular and challenging scramble to the river bottom far below.

Eric Ashley

Features Fall Colors · River/Creek · Views

  • Wilderness permits are required to enter this route. They can be obtained at the visitor center.
  • Campfires are not permitted.
  • Poison ivy is present here. Wear long pants!


This canyon scramble is the "easiest" and most popular of the Inner Canyon routes. The NPS even recommends it to visitors for their first inner-canyon hike. Despite this, the unmaintained trail can be a formidable descent on a steep drainage that's covered in loose and shifting rocks and scree. At the bottom, there's an outhouse and spot for three campsites if you're inclined to stay overnight.

If the challenges of this hike sound like an agreeable adventure, get your Wilderness Use Permit from the visitor center and make your way down the east side of the Oak Flat Trail loop. Look for the "River Access. Permit Required" sign to hone in on the start.

The Gunnison Route begins with a series of user-built braids that eventually all funnel down to a long chain about a third of the way down the descent. Take your time navigating the steep sections and be wary of the possible people below (calling out "rock" is a good idea if you send one hurtling downhill).

An 80-foot length of chain is anchored to a tree and provides a welcome aide through a particularly rough section. Continuing on, the tread alternates between loose talus rocks and gritty sand as the shifting scramble continues.

Once at the bottom, hikers are welcomed by a narrow length of rocky shoreline perched on the edge of the rushing water. All around are dramatic cliffs and craggy outcroppings that are a salute to the 1,800 feet of tough descending it took to get here and a reminder that the only way back is the way you came.

Flora & Fauna

The waters of the Gunnison River are especially fine for fishing. A valid Colorado fishing license is required and there are specific regulations to fishing in the area. Find out more by visiting the NPS's fishing page.

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Jul 7, 2019
Shannon R
2.7mi — 5h 13m
Jul 3, 2019
Andrew Borchman
Woof 3mi — 5h 15m
Jun 23, 2019
Theresa Saenz
Jun 15, 2019
Sherlock Ho
Apr 28, 2019
Zach Novak
Challenging hike with snow and mud on the trail. 3-hour descent and 1:45 ascent — 4h 45m
May 30, 2018
Kristi Maulding
Not as bad as expected. Rock fairly firm.
Dec 19, 2017
Troy Henry
Aug 7, 2017
Ben Ryals

Trail Ratings

  4.4 from 11 votes


in South Rim


  4.4 from 11 votes
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138 Views Last Month
1,265 Since Dec 16, 2016
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