Hoodoo

Rating: 
Round Trip Distance: 9.8 miles
Difficulty: Strenuous
Elevation: 5378 - 6651 feet
Cellphone: 0-3 bars
Time: 6 hrs.
Trailhead: Coal Canyon
Fee: none
Attractions: Wild horses, scenic geology




The Hoodoo trail is located in the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Management Area in the Little Book Cliffs near Grand Junction, Colorado. The trail begins off of the Coal Canyon trail where it travels west through the area on the backside of Mt. Garfield. After about 4 miles the trail makes a steep climb that takes it up to a ridge where it meets up with the Spring Creek and Crazy Ed trails. Backpackers and horseback riders often times combine the various trails for longer excursions through the Little Book Cliffs Wilderness Study Area and Wild Horse Range.


During the summer months a good place to begin is where the Hoodoo trail departs off of the Coal Canyon trail. The Coal Canyon trail is opened seasonally to vehicle traffic. Most passenger cars should be able to make it to this point during dry weather. To get here take Exit 46 off of Interstate 70 in DeBeque Canyon and following the road across the river and up the canyon for about 2.4 miles. If the gate is open drive another 3 miles to get to the Hoodoo trail. If you drive up the hill a little there is plenty of room to park around an old gas well.


The first mile of the trail continues to climb up the road. Unless you want the extra exercise you might consider driving a little further. There is nothing really special about hiking the road section other than some interesting views of the area.


Keep an eye out for an occasional trail marker when you reach the 1 mile point. When in doubt stay to the right. Somewhere around the 1.2 mile point you should reach the marker in this photo where a single track trail begins on the righthand side of the road which has become very rough by this time.


The single track runs into another old jeep trail that it follows west for a stretch.


Near the 2 mile point a spur off of the Coal Canyon trail connects on the left. The spur gets very little use and if it wasn't for the trail marker it would be hard to know it was there. At times the wild horses will use it and it will become more pronounced.


Once you get going on the single track there seem to be plenty of trail markers to help stay the course.


Just before the 4 mile point the trail comes to a site where a plane crashed in 2003 that killed 4 men.


There are hoodoos all along the trail but the iconic ones come up just past the crash site.


A little past the 4 mile point the Hoodoo trail turns uphill and begins climbing the steep mountain side. The trail doesn't go straight up the mountain but there are a few spots where the dirt is loose and the slope is steep enough to require a lot more effort to get good footing.


The trail reaches the ridge about 4.9 miles from where we started. It is here that the Spring Creek trail branches off on the right and Crazy Ed takes off on the left. If you are doing the small loop via Spring Creek the total distance will be just under 14 miles and if you made it this far it is mostly downhill for the rest of the way. The large loop via Crazy Ed and Cottonwood Canyon is more like 26 miles.


From up here you can view Mt. Garfield from an angle that few other people will see it from. You can also see over the rim of the Little Book Cliffs and catch glimpses of Grand Junction and the Colorado National Monument. If you know where to look you can pick out Unaweep Canyon between Whitewater and the town of Gateway.


We saw some wild horses while traveling along the Coal Canyon trail but this photo is from our original post for the Hoodoo trail that was taken several years earlier. The picture has always been one of our favorites even though it was taken with a little point and shoot camera.



The first time we hiked the Hoodoo trail we had to begin down at the Coal Canyon trailhead. The Hoodoo trail itself wasn't marked nearly as well as it is now and we had a lot of trouble staying on the correct route. For that reason we decided to hike it again and this time we had no trouble at all. For being close to Grand Junction as the crow flies the Hoodoo trail sure seems to be awfully remote. It is best probably left for the more experienced hikers that have honed their backcountry skills somewhat. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.