Serpents Trail

Grand Junction

16 switchbacks take hikers up a historic old road.

Hiking Moderate

Distance
5.9 km
Ascent
235 m
Descent
235 m
Duration
1-2 hrs
Low Point
1.5 km
High Point
1.8 km
Gradient
Serpents Trail Map

What a fun trail to do as an introduction to Colorado National Monument! As an old road, it is not technically difficult; in fact, it is a favorite for local runners. It does steadily gain nearly 800 feet over its 1.75 miles, so it's not exactly a walk in the park.

Description

Knowing a bit about the history of the trail increases the wonder of hiking it. It was built in the early 1900s as the only vehicle access to the Monument. As a recreation trail, it now has 16 switchbacks ascending the 1.75-mile route. Back when it was built, it had 50 switchbacks, which is why it used to be known as the “Crookedest Road in the World”! The current name, “Serpents Trail,” is also derived from the numerous switchbacks.

As you hike up this piece of history, consider what people used to drive back in the day. Apparently, back before fuel pumps, vehicles had to back up to ascend those 50 switchbacks so that fuel would stay in the engine! The road was used up until 1952 when Rimrock Drive was completed and opened, and the old road was designated a non-motorized trail.

As the trek steadily ascends, be sure to take in the lovely views of the Grand Valley down below in the distance. The trail ultimately ends at the Upper Trailhead higher up on Rimrock Drive, where you'll turn around and descend back to the trailhead. Another way to do this hike is to get a ride to the Upper Trailhead and enjoy the route as a descent-only!

The trailhead is less than 1/4-mile past the Monument's East Entrance, just outside Grand Junction on Rimrock Drive. This Trailhead provides access to Devils Kitchen, No Thoroughfare Canyon Trail, and Old Gordon Trail. Serpents Trail begins just across the road.

Difficulty

Moderate

Hiking along trails with some uneven terrain and small hills. Small rocks and roots may be present.

Medium Exposure

2 out of 4

The trail contains some obstacles such as outcroppings and rock which could cause injury.

Remoteness

2 out of 4

Away from help but easily accessed.

Best time to visit

January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December

Features

  • Historical
  • Picturesque
  • Wild flowers
  • Family friendly

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