OverviewThis is an unmaintained trail that does not appear on the official park map. It connects White Rocks Trailhead on South Broadway Street to a spot on Liberty Cap Trail about a mile from its lower trailhead. Except for where it connects with Liberty Cap Trail, I found the rest of the trail well defined.
“The Bench” refers to a shelf halfway up the walls of Colorado National Monument. It sits at an elevation of 5200-5300 ft, roughly 500 ft above the nearby suburbs of the city of Grand Junction and 600 ft below the top of the walls.
Bench Trail can be done by itself as an 11.8 mile roundtrip hike or combined with Liberty Cap or Ute Canyon Trails to create one way day hikes from the top of the cliffs down to the suburbs of Grand Junction.
Black line shows the approximate location of Gold Star Canyon Shortcut.
Getting ThereFrom the junction of Broadway and South Broadway in western Grand Junction, drive south on South Broadway, go around the 45 degree turn and find the White Rocks Trailhead on the right (southwestern) side of the road (0.75 miles from Broadway).
This is a description of Bench Trail from its junction with Liberty Cap Trail to White Rocks Trailhead. The junction is hard to see. I found no trace of a trail for the first 100 ft or so. Use GPS or find it a short distance uphill from the junction of Liberty Cap Trail with Corkscrew/Ute Canyon trails. Once I went in the right direction, the trail appeared and remained well defined for the rest of the way.
The trail remains on a bench below red/orange walls.
Suburbs of the city of Grand Junction and the mountains to the north of it (book cliffs) can be seen below.
The trail will then go around the first of three canyons that cut into The Bench. While the rocks above The Bench are red/orange, the ones below appear black. The color transition supposedly marks the geologic boundary between the lower Precambrian and upper Chinle Formation zones.
Some of the subdivisions appear so close.
Continuing on the trail.
The second canyon is pretty broad.
More impressive walls.
You continue to get views of Grand Junction and Grand Mesa.
The third side canyon is Gold Star Canyon.
The trail drops into a wash at the bottom of the canyon and goes a short distance to reach the junction with another wash on the left. It then follows this wash uphill and finally exits it. Look for cairns to find the path.
I then saw an unsigned trail branching on the right. Later I realized that was a short cut down the west side of Gold Star Canyon. This description follows the left branch.
The trail makes a broad 180 degree turn going down a steep slope at the base of a wall.
You will then reach flat ground where a fence separates the park from the nearby homes. Follow the trail parallel to the fence 0.6 miles to reach White Rocks Trailhead on South Broadway Road.