Happy Canyon Rim

Round Trip Distance: 1.8-3.8 miles
Difficulty: Easy
MTB Skill level:
Elevation: 8349 - 8599 feet
Cellphone: 0 bars
Time: 1 hr.
Trailhead: Happy Canyon Rim
Fee: none
Attractions: Forest hike/bike

The Happy Canyon Rim trail is located in the Plateau Division of the Uncompahgre National Forest near Montrose, Colorado. The trail begins off of the Dave Wood Road where it travels through Ponderosa pines and oak brush to the rim of Happy Canyon. There is an optional route that makes a 2 mile loop around the mesa for those wanting to extend the outing.

To get to the trailhead begin at the intersection of Townsend and Main in downtown Montrose. Head west following the signs for Highway 90. Continue following the Highway 90 signs for about 3.3 miles and turn left onto 6250 Road. After about 2.5 miles 6250 Road transitions to become the Dave Wood Road. Follow the Dave Wood Road for another 11.5 miles to the Happy Canyon Rim trailhead which will be on the left hand side of the road.

There is a primitive campsite on the left with room to park after turning off of the Dave Wood Road. From there the trail continues as an easy double track.

A gate comes up before reaching the half mile point. The shortest route to the Happy Canyon Rim is to turn right before going through the gate and following the road along the fence line.

The route up to this point and along the fence is passable by a 2-wheel drive vehicle with moderate ground clearance under good conditions.

On a nice summer day it is even better to just park and enjoy the fresh mountain air.

The road comes to an end at the rim of Happy Canyon. From up here there isn't a lot to see as far as the canyon goes. The trees and brush are very thick and there doesn't appear to be any trails going into the canyon.

The rim is still a good place to hang out and relax for awhile. Especially if you enjoy the smell of pine and aspen trees and the aroma of organic material that has fallen to the forest floor where it lies decomposing as various bacteria and fungi work their magic on it.

If you opt to go through the gate you will find a route that is seldom traveled.

A short distance past the gate the trail splits and can be hiked in a loop.

At the point where the trail begins looping back toward the trailhead there is another faint trail that branches off on the right in the direction of the canyon. One of our maps showed that it could be followed all the way down into Happy Canyon. We followed it to the canyons rim, where it quickly became even fainter, before turning around.

The return side of the loop was easy enough to follow other than a fallen tree. There wasn't any problem staying on the trail and it even showed up on our GPS which is always nice.

There isn't a lot to the Happy Canyon Rim trail but it is a nice short something to do if you happen to be in the area like we happened to be. There are only so many times you can drive by a trailhead before curiosity gets you to finally stop. There are a couple of places to camp near the trailhead. The trail is short enough to be a good family hike with several spots for a picnic. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.