Round Trip Distance: 7 miles (Tellerico)
Round Trip Distance: 11.4 miles (Tellerico and Ute section)
Elevation: 5692 - 7288 feet
Cellphone: 0-4 bars
Usage: Hiking - Equestrian - Dogs - primitive camping
Time: 7 hrs. 30 mins.
Trailhead: Tellerico (pseudo trailhead ;)
View Tellerico in a larger map
The Tellerico trail is located in the Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Range north of Grand Junction, Colorado. 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 as 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 the Texaco well site. The road gets rougher from this point but I 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.
I could have driven a little further into the canyon but there really isn't a good place to park. After strapping on all of my gear I embarked up the road into the canyon. After a short distance I came to the first BLM trail marker directing me onto a trail that ran beside the road.
The canyon became more narrow as I went. The trail followed up the gulch and came to a split. The Tellerico trail goes up the gulch on the left. I propped up the marker that someone had vandalized and piled rocks up around it. Maybe it will stay for awhile but if not remember to go left.
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 and then it goes up the back side of the mountain some more.
The last section of trail on the back side of the mountain was some of the steepest. From here though, it was 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 I 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.
I 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 plaques nailed to some 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 had 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 me. A GPS is still nice to have if you tend to wander off the trail to take pictures and explore.
I continued following the Ute Trail until I came to a dirt road. There was an old homestead of sorts off to the side. My map showed that I could follow the road out to DeBeque. My father-in-law used to have the spring grazing rites for Winter Flats so I was pretty familiar with what lay ahead. I thought about following the road and cutting over to Lane Gulch and making a loop back but instead I took some pictures of the valley and distant mountains and headed back.
No matter which way you look the views are pretty awesome. This is looking west towards Utah from Corcoran Point.
The is looking the other direction down the top of the Little Book Cliffs towards the Grand Mesa.
The hike down the mountain was pretty sweet. I was breaking in a new pair of Merrel hiking shoes and they were doing great. I never slipped once all the way down. I drank 100 ounces of water and 120 ounces of Gatorade on this hike along with another 20 ounces when I got back to the truck. That's about 2 gallons of liquid. I had another 40 ounces that I could have drank. So much for the gallon a day they recommend that you carry. I weighed 3 pounds less when I finished the hike so at 8.33 pounds per gallon I was still dehydrated about 47 ounces.
The temperature was in the 90's at the bottom of the hill with a nice breeze blowing. If you check out some of the BLM maps you can come up with several interesting trail combinations to hike once you get on top. Or you can just hike up the Tellerico Trail and back down. Any way you do it if you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.