Rim Trail #8

Round Trip Distance: 8.8 miles
Difficulty: Strenuous
Elevation: 4545 - 4953 feet
Cellphone: 0-5 bars
Time: 4 hrs. 30 mins.
Trailhead: Ridge Parking Area
Fee: none
Attractions: Scenic views

The Rim Trail is trail #8 in the Rabbit Valley Area of the McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area west of Grand Junction, Colorado. Along its northern edge the Rim Trail skirts the sandstone cliffs from the trailhead to Saddle Rock before returning along the bench above the Colorado River where there are views of the mouth of Mee Canyon and the Black Rocks area of Ruby Canyon. For those that begin at the Ridge trailhead there is more than 1500 feet of total elevation gain over the 7.5 mile loop. Most mountain and dirt bikers begin from another trailhead or campsite and make use of either Trail #4 or the road leading to the Ridge trailhead so their distance and elevation gain varies accordingly.

If you are hiking you may want to get as close to the Ridge Trailhead as possible to avoid making an already long hike even longer. To get to the Ridge Trailhead take Exit 2, the Rabbit Valley exit, on Interstate 70 and drive south past the end of the pavement and the staging area. Take the first left and measure about 0.8 miles and turn right. The trailhead is about 1.7 miles along the road to the south. Stay to the left as you pass several side roads that lead to camping areas and such. Our little blue 2-wheel drive pickup couldn't make it all the way up the last hill to the ridge so we parked at a wide spot in the road about a quarter mile away. On this day a passenger car could have made it as far as we did.

From the Ridge parking area head west about 50 yards or so and watch for the road that leads down the hill. There is a brown mylar trail marker for the Rim Trail at that point.

The loop begins at the base of the hill. The preferred direction of travel is in the clockwise direction.

From this point on most of the trail markers will have the number 8 on them, which is the trails number, rather than the trails name that it is most often referred as.

The Rim Trail drops into one wash after another, testing your legs as it climbs back out of each one. The dirt hills have dips cut into them, reminding one of the moguls on a ski slope, that probably make them pretty interesting for anyone on a dirt bike while also doing a nice job of keeping the trail from getting rutted out and thereby lessening its erosion.

There is a double track runs through the middle of the loop that the Rim Trail makes. The Rim Trail comes into contact with the double track in several places. This feature could be useful for anyone wanting to shorten the hike or come up with a hybrid loop of their own without creating any new trails.

As the trail heads eastward it wraps around each point of the sandstone cliffs and travels back into the canyons between them. This adds to the overall distance of the hike but it also allows for a better appreciation of the area by providing more places to explore.

Just over 3.5 miles from where we began the trail wraps around a prominent formation that isn't labeled on any of our maps. For our own satisfaction we dubbed it 'Saddle Rock'.

Around the 4 mile point the trail begins following the rim above the Colorado River as it loops back toward the west. From here you can look across the river into the mouth of Mee Canyon.

The trail is actually set back up to a quarter mile from the river in most places making the water visible only occasionally. It appears that most of the land between the trail and the river is private property as it is posted as such in several places.

The trail heading back is anything but flat as it too crawls in and out of a multitude of canyons and washes. The designers of the Rim Trail did a masterful job of taking advantage of the lands contours and natural features.

At the point where the trail connects to the road leading back to the trailhead there is an opportunity to hike about a quarter mile over to the Black Rocks overlook.

The old jeep road serves as the trail back to the trailhead on the ridge. As you can see it has its own little ups and downs.

Except for one shallow wash the road up to this point leading to the ridge parking area is as smooth as it is in this picture. The overall distance for this hike reflects the fact that we parked before the trailhead plus it includes the out and back to the Black Rocks overlook. The Grand Junction/Fruita edition of the National Geographic Trails Illustrated map shows the distance as 7.4 miles for just the trail. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.