Indian Point Lower Trail

Round Trip Distance: 15.2 miles
Difficulty: Strenuous
Elevation: 6105 - 10,013 feet
Cellphone: 0-4 bars
Time: 8 hrs. 15 mins.
Trailhead: City Intake
Fee: none
Attractions: Forest hike, wildlife, solitude

Indian Point is located on the rim of the Grand Mesa on the south side of Kannah Creek Basin. You can get to Indian Point by starting at Flowing Park Reservoir, on top of the Grand Mesa, or by starting from the bottom at the City Intake trailhead on the Kannah Creek Road. This hike begins at the bottom from the City Intake trailhead over 3900 feet below Indian Point. I hiked 12 miles a couple of days before so my legs were like putty by the time I finished. I thought it was well worth the effort.

There are a couple of 4WD roads a little further down the creek from the City Intake that provide access to the Indian Point trail but the better approach is probably via the Spring Camp trail. I began by following the Kannah Creek trail for a little less than a quarter mile and took the Spring Camp trail from there.

While the Spring Camp trail isn't as steep as Mt. Garfield the climb can seem a bit relentless. Of course, I was carrying 35 pounds of gear and hiking at a fairly fast pace. It took me 30 minutes to get the first mile with its 700 feet of elevation gain. I held that same pace for the next 2.5 miles before I was able to pick it up a bit.

The trail gets above the juniper and pinyon trees after about 2.5 miles as the elevation rises past 8,000 feet. The rate of climb levels off considerably at this point.

I came to the Indian Point Cutoff trail at 3.8 miles and had reached an elevation of 8,525 feet. Up to this point the trail has been very easy to follow. From here on a map and GPS preloaded with the Indian Point route are highly recommended. There are enough intersecting side trails that you can easily be led astray.

The first spot to watch out for I measured at 4.05 miles. The trail forks at this point and the best looking trail goes off to the left in the wrong direction. I zoomed in on my GPS map enough that I could determine that the right fork was the way to go. After a short distance the trail became very faint. I could tell from my GPS that I was right on top of the trail and after entering a clearing a trail marker confirmed it. From here the faint trail stays on the left side of the clearing before entering the trees where it once again becomes easy to follow. I know that hikers with GPS are a more recent phenomenon, and that this trail has been around for at least many decades, but my thinking is that it used to get used a lot more than it does now. With a little more use maybe a GPS would no longer be necessary. Or, maybe my GPS has ruined my sense of direction, though I don't remember my sense of direction ever being anything that I could brag about.

I came to a barbwire fence at 5.44 miles. There wasn't a gate but my GPS indicated that I needed to cross the fence to stay on the trail. I thought about walking down the fence line and look for a gate but since I was apparently still on the trail I decided to straddle the wire and keep going. This hike entered the Grand Mesa National Forest after the first 3/4 mile so this fence was probably here to divide grazing rights or something and didn't have anything to do with private property. I'm sure there is a gate somewhere that the riders on horseback are using but the map on my Garmin showed that I was on the designated trail.

I reached the 9100 foot level after 6 miles and the trail was becoming a lot steeper again. As the trail gets closer to Indian Point it follows along the southwest side of the ridge. This very ragged and awesome looking ridge of broken basalt extends for about a quarter mile or so down from Indian Point. The striking diversity of geology that we have in the Grand Junction area is truly something to behold.

The last quarter mile of the trail is a series of switchbacks that takes you the remaining 200 plus feet up to Indian Point. Someone went through an incredible amount of trouble to blaze the trail through all these lava boulders. I imagine a good bit of dynamite was need to get the job done. The elevation is just under 10,000 feet at Indian Point but if you walk about another 50 yards up the trail you can get above that mark.

I was showing 7.5 miles when I reached the summit. It was 12:45 so it had taken me about 4 hours and 15 minutes to get there. I saw some fresh mountain bike tracks on top from someone who had ridden in from Flowing Park. After climbing up from the bottom and experiencing the final assault along the ridge I would whole heartedly recommend that anyone coming in on the upper route descend the first 100 yards or so of the trail and check it out. The treat should be well worth the effort.

This group of bow hunters were camped about a mile down from the summit. If people everywhere were as polite and friendly as this group from Iowa there would be a lot fewer problems in the world. They are the kind of folks that you wish the very best of everything for.

I made pretty good time from the cutoff trail back to Spring Camp. I was showing 11.3 miles and about 2 hours had passed since I left Indian Point.

When I started out on the hike there wasn't a cloud in the sky and now there wasn't a patch of blue anywhere to be seen. It began to sprinkle but not enough for me to dig out my rain gear. There were a lot of ripe blueberries, choke cherries and a few cranberries mixed in with the oak brush so I kept an eye and ear out for bears. All I saw was some scat that looked a few days old.

I took this picture, looking back at the parking area, when I was just heading up the trail this morning to give an idea of how many hunters were in the area. There are a couple more horse trailers and 4 or 5 other vehicles that you can't see. The Kannah Creek Basin is a very big area and the hunters were spread out in small groups and most of them were secluded away from the trails so even with the whole lot of them in the area it still seemed pretty quiet. I think that the wildlife was either hiding out pretty good or perhaps they left the immediate area for elsewhere.

I went through 100 ounces of water and 140 ounces of Gatorade along with several bagels, protein bars and energy bars. I could have filtered some water and topped off a couple of bottles from West Two Creek but that was about the only place that was still running any water.  Tackling Indian Point from the bottom is probably a lot more than the casual hiker will want to try. This hike requires more preparation and gear than most hikes. If it sounds like its right up your alley and you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.