Tackle this hike on Colorado’s Grand Mesa, one of the world’s largest flat-topped mountains, and you’ll get sweeping views of Rockies summits, river-carved canyons, and seven of of the state’s nine forest types.
From the Kannah Creek (#706) Trailhead at 10,300 feet, the trail winds through high-altitude wetlands that give way to spruce, fir, lodgepole pine, and ponderosa pine before emerging into scrub oak and cottonwood at 6,100 feet.
Highlights of this “roadless area” include several waterfalls (at their best in the spring) cascading off of the dramatic cliffs north of the trail and life-list wildlife: moose in the sub-alpine marshes, mule deer in the lower-elevation brush, and black bears, cougars, and coyotes at any point.
Hearty hikers in search of a challenge can also do Kannah Creek as a strenuous 15.2-mile out-and-back, or camp near mile 5.6 between Service and Cheever creeks.
Info: (970) 874-6600; www.fs.fed.us/r2/gmug
Hike provided by Penelope Purdy, author of Hiking Colorado's Roadless Trails (Colorado Mountain Club Press)
TO TRAILHEAD: To lower trailhead (end of hike): From Grand Junction, take U.S. 50 S. Turn L on Lands End Rd./Forest Rd. 00, and go about 3 miles to a 3-way junction. Turn right on Kannah Creek Rd. Stay on main road as it curves sharply L, then follow Kannah Creek Rd 7.3 miles to the city intake pipe and the lower trailhead. To upper trailhead (start of hike): Return to Land’s End Rd./Forest Rd.00, follow it to the top of the mesa, and turn R on CO 65. Drive to Carson Lake turnoff (ignore several signs marked Kannah Creek), 52.2 mi. from Grand Junction, and turn R. Trailhead is southwest of lake.