Tellerico Trail

Rating: 
Round Trip Distance: 7 miles (Tellerico)
Round Trip Distance: 11.4 miles (Tellerico and Ute section)
Difficulty: Strenuous
Elevation: 5692 - 7288 feet
Cellphone: 0-3 bars
Time: 7 hrs. 30 mins.
Trailhead: Tellerico
Fee: none
Attractions: Views, solitude




The Tellerico trail is located in the Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Range north of Grand Junction, Colorado. Beginning in the floor of the valley the trail follows a route that leads to the top of the Little Books Cliffs near Corcoran Point. The elevations listed above are a little deceiving. The actual amount of elevation gain on this hike is just under 3100 feet. Three times on the trail up the front of the mountain you have to give up hard earned gains where the trail dips down as it passes through ravines. If you are already conditioned for climbing the likes of Mt. Garfield then you might not think much of it.


People have mentioned that they went looking for the trailhead for this hike but couldn't find it. Since there isn't a trailhead to find it is perfectly understandable. The approach for the hike is made by driving north on 25 Road and continuing past the Highline Canal towards the Little Book Cliffs. Originally all of the main roads in the desert north of Grand Junction led to coal mines. There are five abandoned coal mines in the canyon where the trial begins. The picture above is directing you to follow the road to the right as you pass a Texaco well site. The road gets rougher from this point but we have seen passenger cars in the parking area which is ahead on the right just before you enter the canyon. The distance from the canal is just under 7 miles.


It is best to park at the mouth of the canyon where there is still room to turn around and get off the road. From there you can begin hiking along the short stretch of road that is left. As you head up the road there are brown mylar trail markers that make route finding a lot easier.


The canyon becomes narrower the further you hike as it travels up a gulch and comes to a split. At the time that we were there for this post the trail marker directing the Tellerico trail up the gulch on the left was knocked over but it was still there.


If you look up the mountain on the left side you will see what is known as Corcoran Point which is about 7218 feet. The trial keeps going up, up and up, with about 3 downs mixed in for good measure, until it is just below the point where it turns up the back side of the mountain.


The last section of trail on the back side of the mountain is some of the steepest with loose dirt to compound the difficulties. After getting up the last little bit of steep stuff it is almost like a walk in the park. The junipers and pinyons are thick enough that you can't see very far in a lot of places. After walking through the trees for almost a half mile the trail meets up with the Ute Trail. If you are going to go any further than this we highly recommend having, at least, a good topo map, and know how to read it, and preferably a GPS. There are lots of criss-crossing trails from the wild horses and it is easy to get off the Ute Trail if you aren't careful.


We followed the Ute Trail for almost another 3/4 mile and came to an expanse of slick rock. As you can see from the photo the path is still pretty easy to follow. Just before the slick rock runs out there are some BLM trail markers nailed to the trees and logs. That is the direction to go to continue following the Ute Trail.


The trail makes a dog-leg at this point as it drops into a gulch, giving back over a hundred foot of elevation gain, and then climbs back up some slick rock to get it all back. This is actually a pretty cool section of trail through here.


The BLM has done a good job marking this section of the Ute Trail. If you keep your eye out for the ribbons and signs you will have little trouble staying the course. The surveyors tape tied to the tree branches and the orange arrows nailed to the trees made it a cinch for us. A GPS is still nice to have if you tend to wander off the trail to take pictures and explore.


If you go far enough along the Ute Trail it comes to a dirt road. There is an old homestead of sorts off to the side. Our map showed that we could follow the road out to DeBeque. My father-in-law used to have the spring grazing rites for Winter Flats so we were pretty familiar with what lay ahead. You can also follow the road and cut over to Lane Gulch to make a loop back but to the Tellerico trail.


No matter which way you look the views are pretty awesome from way up here. This is looking west towards Utah from Corcoran Point.


This is looking the other direction down the top of the Little Book Cliffs toward the Grand Mesa.


The hike down the mountain is pretty sweet in comparison to the trip up and makes for a nice finish to a tough hike. It's alway nice to discover another route from the valley floor to the top of the formidable looking Little Book Cliffs. None of the other routes like Hunter Canyon, North Soda or Mt. Garfield are easy accomplishments for most hikers but Tellerico might be the more strenuous one of the bunch. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.