Round Trip Distance: 7 miles
Elevation: 5730 - 6156 feet
Cellphone: 0-3 bars
Usage: Hiking - Equestrian - Dogs
Time: 3 hrs. 45 mins.
Trailhead: Jones Canyon Overlook
Attractions: Scenic canyons, solitude, wildlife, wildflowers
View Jones Canyon Overlook in a larger map
The Jones Canyon Overlook trail is located west of Grand Junction in the Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness Area. The wilderness area protects the natural beauty and resources of 7 main canyons that drain the plateau into the Colorado River. Jones Canyon and Kings Canyon, which are just east of the Utah/Colorado border are the western most canyons in the Black Ridge Canyons group.
Access to the trailhead can be found by using your favorite map tool to make your way to the Glad Park Store at the intersection of 16.5 Road and DS Road. Turn north onto 16.5 Road and follow it for a half mile to BS Road. Turn west onto BS Road and follow it for about 14 miles to the trailhead which is the present day end of the road. The road starts out paved, then turns to gravel, and then to dirt. A vehicle with a little clearance would be better than a family car but I have seen 2-wheel drives on the road. There is a moderately steep and rocky road about 1 mile from the trailhead. It would be advisable to stop and walk the hill before taking your car down it. There are places to park before the hill where you can begin hiking from and plan on an extra 2 miles of round trip distance.
The first 3 miles of the hike continues along the old BS Road that was closed off when Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness Area was created. The trail crosses the rolling grassland mesa above Toms Canyon and Kings Canyon which are drained by the Little Dolores river.
The once burned area is now lush with grass that provides browse for deer, elk and bighorn sheep.
The canyons to the south of the trail provide pleasantly scenic views that draw the hikers attention in their direction.
As the trail continues across the mesa it wraps around the base of an Entrada sandstone cliff.
The trail bends north between the sandstone cliff and Kings Canyon and passes through a gate at about the 2 miles point. Continue ahead on the old road as it bends back toward the west. There is another road that drops down off the mesa after passing through the gate that leads off to the north in the wrong direction. It will not take you to Jones Canyon.
Around the 3 mile point there are signs that direct you off the road onto the trail that will take you the final half mile to the Jones Canyon Overlook. The trail looses about 230 feet of elevation, at a gradual pace, over the last half mile leading to the overlook.
I haven't been able to find a name on any of my maps for the prominent buttes, one of which is worn to a point, that lay to the north.
The overlook is right at the head of Jones Canyon. I have heard that access to the mouth of the canyon is blocked by private land which makes it impossible to hike in the bottom of Jones Canyon. It looks like there are probably several places that on the topo maps where a person could hike to to get down into the canyon.
The Jones Canyon Overlook trail is a good place to hike where you will encounter few if any people and enjoy a relatively easy outing. There are abundant wildflowers and tall green grass in the summer months. It is usually a little cooler than the valley but there are no water sources so be sure to bring plenty with you. If you choose to do some primitive camping be sure to follow wilderness etiquette and try to camp out of sight of the main trail. There are 2 exceptionally nice slickrock campsites on the edge of the canyon on the road just before the trailhead. Jones Canyon is well worth the extra driving to get to its remote location. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.
We tracked an elk for over a mile until it went too far away from the trail and the one deer we saw we never got a picture of so out of frustration we stopped on the way down the Colorado National Monument and took lots of pictures of several herds of bighorn. The horns on this ram were showing quite a bit of wear from the recent mating season.