Chukar Trail

Round Trip Distance: 2.8 miles
Difficulty: Strenuous
Elevation: 5376 - 5958 feet
Cellphone: 0 bars
Time: 1 hr. 45 mins.
Trailhead: Chukar
Fee: $3/person per day - $10 camping
Attractions: River access, scenic gorge

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The Chukar trail is in the Gunnison Gorge National Conservation and Wilderness Area near Olathe, Colorado. The trail provides access to the Gunnison River for fishermen, rafters, hikers, and horseback riders. This is the main launching point for rafters that are heading down the river through the Gunnison Gorge.

Google Maps doesn't work for getting driving directions to the Chukar trailhead. The best route is to turn east off of Highway 50 1 mile south of the Olathe traffic light onto the Falcon Road. Follow the Falcon Road for about 3.7 miles. Continue straight ahead when the pavement ends onto the Peach Valley Road. Follow the Peach Valley Road past the Peach Valley Staging Area and turn right onto the Chukar Road after 1.6 miles. Keep driving for 7 more miles to where the road dead ends at the Chukar trailhead. The last 5 miles of the Chukar Road are very rough and a high clearance vehicle is required. A 4-wheel drive vehicle is strongly recommended.

The trail begins north of the parking area. The Chukar trail is in the Gunnison Gorge Wilderness Area. A $3/person per day fee is required. Be sure to put a copy of the form on your dashboard and carry a copy with you. There are 2 designated hiker campsites near the river. The camping fee is $10/day and it can also be paid at the trailhead when you pay the day use fee.

The trail begins descending right from the start. There are very few level spots the entire distance. The overall elevation change is less than 600 feet.

Switchbacks are built in to make the steep grade more manageable.

This section of trail has had steps added to control the erosion and make it a little easier to hike.

The trail eventually enters the wash where it passes through the cliffs and down to the river.

This is the main put-in spot for rafters. Here four rafts can be seen getting ready to hit the rapids.

There are two ways for rafters to get their gear down the Chukar trail to the river. The first way is to carry it all down on foot which usually requires multiple trips and the second way is to hire someone with the required permits to pack it down for you. Check out the BLM's website to find a legitimate guide or pack service.

Here is a short clip of those 4 rafts setting out on the river.

This picture is looking upstream toward the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.

Green posts mark the hiker campsites and blue ones mark the campsites for rafters. There are two hiker campsites in this area. There is also some poison ivy here that you will want to watch out for.

There is also a vault toilet down at this end of the trail. The toilet is wheelchair accessible for all of those people that came down the mountain in a wheelchair. We got a pretty good chuckle out of that. Besides the wheelchair you can probably tell who they are from their clinched fingers and dinner plate sized eyes.

The Chukar trail gets daily use during the summer months from hikers, fishermen, and rafters. The road is very rough and it tends to have quite a bit of traffic on it. There are also shuttle services that will drive you in using their vehicles and drop you off. We swapped vehicles with one of our boys for the day so we wouldn't abuse our little blue truck. We found the Chukar trail to be a great hike and probably the easiest trail that accesses the Gunnison River in the Gunnison Gorge Wilderness Area. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.