Billings Canyon Loop

Round Trip Distance: 8 miles
Difficulty: Strenuous
Elevation: 5252 - 6196 feet
Elevation gain: 1360 feet
Cellphone: 1-5 bars
Time: 2 hrs.
Trailhead: Bangs Canyon Staging Area
Fee: none
Attractions: Multi-use trail

View Billings Canyon Loop in a larger map

The Billings Canyon Loop is made by combining the Billings Canyon Road with the Third Flats and Little Park Roads to create an 8 mile route that follows some old jeep roads. The loop is located in the BLM Bangs Canyon Management Area near Grand Junction, Colorado. The Bangs Canyon and Third Flats areas are both day use only areas. Even though camping is restricted it is a great place, that is close to town, where pretty much any form of off highway travel from mountain bikes to 4x4's can be enjoyed by everyone.

The Bangs Canyon Staging Area, off of Little Park Road, serves as the trailhead.

The elevation profile shows that the route generally descends from the trailhead to Billings Canyon and ascends along the Third Flats Road to Little Park Road where it returns to the trailhead.

Follow the Tabeguache trail south from the trailhead, turn left immediately after the cattleguard, and follow the Billings Canyon Road from there. The sign points out that all travel other than hiking and horseback riding is restricted to the designated routes. The Billings Canyon Road is rough enough that everyone should have plenty of opportunities to put their favorite toy through its paces just trying to stay on the road.

The Billings Canyon Road starts out easy enough. For a short distance it travels above the Tabeguache trail with some nice views of Ladder Creek and Rough Canyon.

From there is heads more easterly and becomes a lot rougher as it descends into the first valley.

Most of the hills that are steep are also relatively short in distance and not all that hard to ride up on a mountain bike.

A good mix of easy going stretches provide ample time for recovery.

Before dropping into Billings Canyon an alternate route to the Third Flats Road comes up on the left. This is the route that jeeps normally return along after making it up the Billings Canyon Extreme Jeep Trail.

The jeep trail comes up around the 4 mile point. It is only open to jeeps that meet the basic requirements and to hikers.

From the jeep trail the road climbs a hill where the Art Cooks View trail departs on the right. The Billings Canyon Road comes to an end at 4.2 miles where it meets up with the Third Flats Road.

After following the Third Flats Road for about a mile and a half the alternate route that was passed before reaching the Extreme Jeep Trail joins the Third Flats Road. An option here would be to follow it back to the Billings Canyon Road and retrace the route back to the trailhead from there. We had taken a similar route for our initial post of the Billings Canyon area 4 years ago. At the time of that post many of the trails that are here today hadn't been developed yet.

The Third Flats Road reaches Little Park Road at the 6.7 mile point of the loop. From here it is about 1.3 miles along the pavement to get back to the trailhead. It is also uphill almost the entire distance.

The intention has been to repost the Billings Canyon trail for several years since many more trails have been developed in the Third Flats Area. Making use of our mountain bikes seemed like the quickest and easiest way to make that happen. The original post was 12.5 miles of all hiking that included not only the Billings Canyon Road but also what is now the Easy Rider/Roll Over Ridge Trails. All of these trails can be combined to come up with a lot of different routes through the area of varying lengths and difficutly. We rode this particular route one evening after work. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is grab your bike or 'Take a hike'.