Duncan Trail

Rating: 
Round Trip Distance: 3 miles
Difficulty: Moderate +
Elevation: ~5350 - 6128 feet
Cellphone: 0-3 bars
Time: 1 hr. 45 mins.
Trailhead: Duncan
Fee: $3/person per day - $10 camping
Attractions: Scenic gorge, Gold Medal fishing




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The Duncan trail is located in the Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area and Wilderness near Olathe, Colorado. The trail provides access to the Gunnison River for fishermen and others that like to see how many different places they can safely hike below the rim of the Black Canyon and reach the river.


The Duncan trailhead sits in the saddle of a ridge overlooking the Gunnison Gorge in one direction and the Uncompahgre Valley in the other. Getting to the trailhead requires a high clearance vehicle. For the best route turn off of Highway 50 onto the Falcon Road 1 mile south of the Olathe traffic light. Follow the paved Falcon Road for 3.7 miles. Continue straight ahead on the unpaved Peach Valley Road. After 1.6 miles pass the turnoff of the Chukar Road and after 3.8 miles pass the turnoff for the Bobcat Road. At 5.3 miles turn right onto the Duncan Road. From here it is 1.8 miles up to the trailhead. The only place a high clearance vehicle is really needed is while crossing the wash after turning off of the Peach Valley Road. After a hard rain the road is barely passable for 4-wheel drives though.


After paying the Wilderness Area fee at the trailhead follow the trail as it drops off the east side of the ridge. At first the trail is following an old jeep road.


Before reaching the half mile point the Bighorn trail departs to the right and the Duncan trail continues to the left.


At this point the Duncan trail becomes an easy to follow single track.


Fresh bighorn tracks that were made since it had rained the day before could be seen in the soft soil through this section of the trail.


The trail becomes much rockier at the point it begins transitioning from the sandstone formations to the basalt.


The basalt weathers into a gravely scree that packs well in the flat spots of the trail but makes the steeper slopes and boulders very slippery.


Care must be taken to find good footing but as long as you take it slow its not too bad.


As we were reaching the last quarter mile of the trail thunder began echoing off the canyon walls and flashes of lightening could be seen lighting up the sky over the ridge. That was enough to convince us to turn around and finish this hike some other time.


Back at the trailhead most of the storm looked like it was staying mostly to the north. We drove back down to the Peach Valley Road and it looked like it was clearing up so we came back up to the trailhead and hiked the Bighorn Loop. If you read that post you will see that another storm came in and clobbered us pretty hard before we finally made it back to the pavement. What we saw of the Duncan trail we really enjoyed. When we get back to finish the hike we will update this post. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.