Westwater Mesa Loop

Round Trip Distance: 7.2 miles
Difficulty: Strenuous
Elevation: 4659 - 4973 feet
Cellphone: 0-4 bars
Time: 2 hrs. 30 mins.
Trailhead: Westwater Mesa
Fee: none
Attractions: Scenic views

The Westwater Mesa Loop is located just west of the Colorado/Utah state line in the BLM Utah Rims area west of Grand Junction, Colorado. To the east the trail overlooks the Bitter Creek drainage that is between the Utah Rims and Rabbit Valley areas. The west side of the trail overlooks the Westwater Creek drainage. Looking over the rim toward the south, the Colorado River can be seen plying its way past the mouth of Jones Canyon and the Westwater Landing where rafters that began at the Loma boat launch, and floated through Ruby Canyon, generally take out and those heading on down stream through Westwater Canyon toward Moab put in.

This post begins at the Westwater Mesa trailhead. To get there take Exit 227 on Interstate 70 and follow the paved road south for 3.5 miles. At that point the Kokopelli Trail makes a junction with the paved road. Passenger cars will need to park here and either hike or bike the remaining 1.7 miles to Westwater Mesa. Moderate to high clearance vehicles can continue past the kiosk in this picture and drive 0.9 miles where another road departs on the right. Follow the right fork for 0.8 miles to the trailhead. There are a few spots that are a little rocky and one that requires more clearance than most passenger cars will have. In anything other than the best of conditions a 4-wheel drive may be needed to cross the washes and make it back up the hill on the trip out. If you happen to be on a mountain bike it is a quick ride to the trailhead and may even be faster than driving a vehicle.

What we are referring to as the Westwater Mesa trailhead is the point where the Overlook Trail, Arch Loop, Westwater Mesa Loop and Western Rim Cutoff trails all come together. The Westwater Mesa Loop leaves the trailhead both to the east and to the south. Either way you begin you have to climb the same hill so for this post we took the shorter route to the south and came back the other way.

Look off to the left at the top of the first hill for the Westwater Mesa Loop trail marker and take the short connector to get over to it.

The trail heads right over to the rim and begins following it around the mesa. Several steep hills must be conquered over the course of the first half mile or so.

Mountain bikes can make good time along much of the rim.

The trail stays back a safe distance from the edge which is good for the spots where you need to concentrate on where you are going.

On the route back along the Westwater Creek side of the mesa the trail passes through some eroded conglomerates that give it a slippery gravel base.

There are some steeper hills that are graded more for dirt bikes than they are for mountain bikes. Trying to clear the rock ledges at the top of a couple of them can be a difficult task.

The paved Westwater Creek road can be seen looking down from the west rim with portions of the 27 mile Mel's Loop trail off in the distance.

The Arch Loop comes in on the left after a little past the 6.2 mile point.

The Westwater Mesa Loop is a major workout on a mountain bike. The trail gets an Advanced rating from National Geographic Trails Illustrated. They have the distance at 5.1 miles but both our GPS devices were showing it at 7.2 miles. Our COPMOBA map had the distance at 5.5 miles. We are pretty confident that our distance is the most accurate of the 3. We thought the trail was a real butt kicker so plan on the extra distance and bring plenty of extra fluids for the sweat fest and you won't go wrong. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is grab your bike or 'Take a hike'.