Telephone Trail

Round Trip Distance: 7.2 miles
Difficulty: Strenuous
Elevation: 8233 - 8698 feet
Cellphone: 0-1 bars
Time: 3 hrs. 30 mins.
Trailhead: Telephone
Fee: none
Attractions: Pine/aspen forest, wildlife, solitude

The Telephone trail is located in the Uncompahgre National Forest near Grand Junction, Colorado. The trail stretches for 3.4 miles from a trailhead just off of the Divide Road, FR #402, to another trailhead on the Smith Point Road, FR #406. We are guessing that the straightness of the trail earned it its name because it pretty much makes a beeline between its two end points. Our GPS readings came up with about 2 tenths of a mile more in each direction than the Forest Service website shows but we parked at Divide Road and began hiking rather than the actual trailhead.

To get to the trailhead drive south on Divide Road for about 6.1 miles from the northern forest boundary. Just after crossing a cattle guard there is a road to the left named 402.1B. The trailhead is about 2 tenths of a mile off of Divide Road. A passenger car can probably make it okay but we parked at the pullout for the Telephone Trail Cavity Nesting Bird Habitat and began from there even though we were driving the little truck.

This plot of the trails elevation profile looks a little exaggerated but the point is that if you simply subtract the low elevation from the high elevation on this hike you will come out a little short. The actual change in elevation is 1,137 feet or 672 feet more than the 465 feet you come up with by just subtracting. The difference comes from two canyons that the trail descends in and out of and the fact that the high point of the trail is not at either end. (It was a decent workout and it was the 2nd hike of the day.)

From the trailhead the trail climbs around the hillside above the canyon.

From there it begins its first decent that takes you down to the bottom of the canyon to La Fair Creek.

Look for the route that takes you in almost a straight line across the creek. Be careful not to follow the game trails that run along the creek.

The climb up the opposite side of the canyon is a little over 200 feet before it levels off.

Once the trail levels off the hiking becomes very pleasant but route finding can be a bit of a challenge. There are a few cairns that are very helpful but probably the best help is to remember that the trail is very straight so if you don't veer to the left or to the right you should be able to make it through the less obvious areas.

We saw some very nice bucks in this area but since motorized transportation is forbidden you would need a horse to pack one out.

Measuring from Divide Road you come to the first of two gates at 2.09 miles. After passing through the gate continue in a straight line. The trail heads downhill from here into the Smith Creek drainage.

Once the trail reaches the bottom be sure and cross the creek and not follow the trail that heads up the canyon.

Once again it is a pretty good climb getting up the other side.

At the top the hiking gets pleasant and easy once again. There is a cross trail that you come to in this area that looks like it would be fun to explore but the main trail continues in a straight line.

The high point of the trail is a hill that you cross about a half mile from the end.

The turnaround point at the Smith Point Road is only about a half mile from where the Divide Forks Cutoff trail meets the same road. Even with that there really aren't any good trails to form a loop with so it is about face and head back the way we came.

The Telephone trail doesn't appear to get a lot of use. There is a lot of great scenery and its kind of cool to get to hike into the Smith Creek and La Fair Creek canyons. There are plenty of good camping spots for anyone looking for a place to go backpacking. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.