Gunny Loop

Rating: 
Round Trip Distance: 10 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation: 4664 - 5561 feet
Cellphone: 3-4 bars
Usage: Hiking - Biking - Equestrian - Dogs
Time: 4 hrs. 30 mins.
Facilities: none
Trailhead: Little Park Trailhead
Fee: none
 

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The Gunny Loop trail encircles a large section of land on both sides of the Little Park Road southwest of Grand Junction. The trail is part of the BLM's Bangs Canyon Management Area. Most people that hike the Gunny Loop do short out and back hikes from the Little Park Trailhead. The hike can also be done by parking at the Lower Tabeguache Trailhead on Monument Road. Hiking from there will add almost a mile to the total distance.


There are two places to exit the parking area at the Little Park Trailhead. It doesn't matter which one you use because they both join up together a short distance from the trailhead. I must apologize for the smudge on the camera lens. I didn't discover it until I transfered the pictures to my computer.


The trail starts out heading east towards the Gunnison River. A little over a mile from the trailhead there is an overlook you can hike up a hill to. The short climb will add about a third of a mile to the hike. If all you are looking for is a short hike you can go up the hill and then head back to the trailhead and you will end up with a nice hike that is just under 3 miles round trip.


Back at the bottom of the hill the trail continues eastward for about another mile before it begins heading towards the north. The further you go the more picturesque the trail becomes. There were over a dozen varieties of flowers blooming today and I took over 300 pictures of them. I probably spent at least an extra hour taking pictures.


The trail turns west a little over 3 miles out and drops down into a valley. I had a hawk keeping me company for most of my trip through the valley. On the west side of the valley the trail heads northeast again paralleling Little Park Road.


The trail became a little confusing around 4 miles when it came up against a short cliff of rocks. I walked up the cliff to take a look around. There didn't seem to be much in the way of tracks going this way. Looking back I could see another trail that had quite a few tracks so I went back down to check it out. I followed that trail for about a quarter mile before I decided it wasn't taking me where I wanted to go.


After backtracking, once again, I climbed back up the little rocky outcrop and it wasn't too much further before I found my way to where the trail crosses Little Park Road. The trail is heading almost due north at this point. At the trails closest approach to a prominent hill name White Cap it begins dropping quickly towards the west into the Tabeguache trails area.


Once the trail reaches the bottom area at this point it bends southwest and within a mile it meets up with the Holy Cross trail. Up to this point I had encountered only one other person and he was mountain biking his way down the Gunny Loop. Now I began seeing groups of riders with as many as 8 people.


I had several options for making my way back to the Little Park trailhead from this point. The Gunny Loop trail makes use of the Tabeguache trail through this area. Rather than dropping all the way down the hill I stayed up on top and followed the Raven Ridge route to the south. Going this way was not only the easiest but it is also the most scenic and it avoids most of the crowds on the lower Tabeguache trail.


After crossing Raven Ridge I passed up another opportunity to get over to the Tabeguache trail and at the junction of the High Noon trail and the Lemon Squeezer I took the latter. The Lemon Squeezer trail, not to be confused with the much older Lemon Squeeze trail on Mt. Garfield, gets its name from an obstacle created where two large rocks come close together requiring a rider to either dismount or ride their bike up the side of one of the rocks. Woo-hoo!


The upper end of the Lemon Squeezer trail meets up with the Tabeguache trail. There are still about 3 different options for getting back up to the Little Park trailhead from here. The first trail to the left is the Prenup trail and it is definitely a nice route to take. The Prenup trail might be about a tenth mile further than staying on the Tabeguache trail which is the second available route. The third way to go would be via the Eagle's Connector over to the Eagle's Wing trail. I chose to stay on the Tabeguache trail and hike up the very steep Widow Maker Hill. You don't have to worry about any bikers passing you going up this hill.


After the trail crosses Little Park Road it starts off again on the north side of the parking area that is there. This is about where the 10 mile marker of Little Park Road is located. If you want or need to cut the hike short you can follow Little Park Road on up the hill about a half mile to the trailhead. It will cut off almost a mile and a half of hiking. The trail gets pretty crooked for the rest of the way. At one spot you are within a quarter mile of the trailhead when the trail takes off back to the east for about a half mile before wrapping back the other way.


This section of the trail is pretty pleasant to hike. I had given up hiking for jogging the last couple of miles. I had come upon a biker that had done an 'endo', as he described it, and was in need of a rescue ride back down to the Lower Tabeguache trailhead. He wasn't busted up so bad that he needed 911 but one look at him would have surely upset his mother.

I was packing about 180 ounces of liquid on this hike and I went through about 120 of it. That was with the temperature in about the mid 60's. I'm sure I would have drank it all in summer temps. Most anywhere you hike for the next month is going to seem like a flower garden. There were so many blooms on the Gunny Loop that their fragrance was thick at times. Whether you want to take your kids or dog out for a short hike or you want to experience the whole 10 miles the Gunny Loop is another great place to 'Take a hike'!