Hunter Canyon

Rating: 
Round Trip Distance: 5.25 miles
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Elevation: 5356-5681 feet
Cellphone: 0-4 bars
Usage: Hiking - Equestrian - Cycling - Jeep - OHV
Time: 2 hrs. 30 mins.
Facilities: none
Trailhead: Start near High Grade Mine
Fee: none
 

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Hunter Canyon is a true multi-use area. No matter what your favorite outdoor activity, fishing excepted, can be enjoyed in Hunter Canyon at different times of the year. To access the Hunter Canyon area drive north on 21 road between Fruita and Grand Junction. The pavement ends at the gas plant but the dirt road is usually easily accessible with a 2-wheel drive vehicle. That is what we were driving today. There isn't an official trailhead but a good place to start is at an old coal mine in the mouth of the canyon which is about 2 miles past the gas plant.


The trail follows a high clearance 4-wheel drive road all the way. We hiked in a little over 2.5 miles but you can go a lot further if you like. The road was muddy in spots but we were early enough that it was still frozen enough to walk on. In 3 or 4 more weeks it should be in great shape.


The road climbs steadily all the way but it was hardly noticeable. I was surprised when I uploaded the map to my computer and found that we had gained over 300 feet of elevation at the point we turned around.


The further into the canyon we journeyed the narrower it became.


The narrowest sections were getting very little sun and they still had lots of snow. We had crossed the stream a half dozen times. The stream was running a lot of water but we didn't have any trouble finding places to cross. In the above picture the stream was actually frozen and we were able to walk right across on the ice which was as thick as 5-6 inches.


We enjoyed watching several groups of jeeps and trucks that were slowly crawling their way over the rocks and through the stream. They looked like they were really enjoying their day in the canyon.


The 4-wheel ATVs were also getting in on the action.


This is the first time we have been in Hunter Canyon this time of the year. In late spring, through summer and into the fall Hunter Canyon is a fun place to hike and mountain bike. If you are into backpacking you might enjoy a multi-day trip. It's not too hard to find a good place to camp. Hiking on a road is pretty easy going and that's the rating I would have given the hike but with the heavy flowing stream and some mud holes that we had to work our way around I was leaning a little to the moderate level. If you have never been into Hunter Canyon there is a lot of nice Mesa Verde type scenery with a wild riparian environment. It's not too far from Grand Junction and it is definitely another good place to 'Take a hike'.