Round Trip Distance: 1/4 mile
Elevation: 10,290 - 10,383 feet
Cellphone: 0-4 bars
Usage: Hiking - Dogs
Time: 30 mins.
Facilities: Flush toilet, Book store, Fly shop
Trailhead: Grand Mesa Visitors Center
View Discovery Trail in a larger map
The Discovery Trail is short interpretive hike located on the Grand Mesa just behind the Grand Mesa Visitor Center. The trail, which loops up and around the hill, through aspen and spruce trees, has 15 stations that explain various aspects of the forest ecosystem. The trail is suitable for toddlers and strollers and might be manageable for some wheelchairs though the trail itself is not paved.
The trailhead for the Discovery Trail can be accessed by either walking around the Visitor Center or by walking through the breeze-way between the Visitor Center and the restrooms.
There is a box at the start of the trail which is usually stocked with brochures that provide the information for each of the 15 stations along the trail. If the box is empty you can usually pick up a brochure from inside the Visitor Center. They also have several other free brochures with information and maps for hiking, cycling, wildflowers and other activities that you can do on the Grand Mesa.
The beginning of the trail rounds several switchbacks as it works its way up the hill. There are a few stations to stop at along the way to break up the climb into smaller expenditures of energy. There is only about a hundred feet difference between the parking lot and the highest point of the trail so it doesn't amount to that much effort.
If you pick up one of the free wildflower brochures at the Visitor Center you may be able to recognize a few of the flowers in the meadows.
It was a rainy day so a short hike like the Discovery Trail worked out just right. We were able to spend some time in the Visitor Center while it rained and then hit the short trail after it let up. We agreed that the weather and forest reminded us of our time in Alaska.
The Discovery Trail is a nice hike the next time you are on the Grand Mesa and have a little extra time. I wouldn't hesitate to plan a trip up to the mesa just to hike the Discovery Trail and the Land of Lakes Trail. Throw in a picnic and you can have a good day on the mountain where the temperatures are 20-25 F lower than they are in the valleys. When I drive my diesel truck from Grand Junction up to the Grand Mesa it takes me about 5 gallons of fuel for the round trip. Today we drove our car so it probably took a little bit less than that. That's a nice day for less money than going to a movie or a lot of other things.
We learned several interesting and worthwhile things about the forest while hiking the Discovery Trail. I don't want to ruin it for you so I won't mention them. If you would like to see it for yourself and see what you might learn then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.