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Liberty Cap & Otto's Bathtub Trails
Route

Liberty Cap & Otto's Bathtub Trails

 
Liberty Cap & Otto\'s Bathtub Trails

Page Type: Route

Location: Colorado, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 39.05546°N / 108.73692°W

Object Title: Liberty Cap & Otto's Bathtub Trails

GPX File: Download GPX » View Route on Map

Route Type: Hiking

Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Time Required: Half a day

Difficulty: Hike

Route Quality: 
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Page By: nader

Created/Edited: Apr 26, 2016 / Oct 27, 2017

Object ID: 970612

Hits: 614 

Page Score: 80.49%  - 12 Votes 

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Overview

Liberty Cap Trail
With a length of 7 miles, Liberty Cap is the longest maintained trail in Colorado National Monument. It starts on the park’s Rim Rock Drive at an elevation of 6500 ft. For the next few miles, the trail travels the surface of a juniper covered plateau going down in elevation slowly while giving a few glimpses of the red colored canyons below. After 5 miles, the trail suddenly reaches the edge of the plateau where the city of Grand Junction can be seen 1200 vertical feet below walls and steep slopes that drop from right under your feet. A 50 ft tall slickrock dome known as Liberty Cap can be seen in this area. For information about rock climbing on Liberty Cap please refer to this page. The trail then begins to make very tight and steep switchbacks carved into the walls to get you down to the lower trailhead on Wildwood Drive in a suburb of Grand Junction.

Otto’s Bathtub
At 3.35 miles from the upper trailhead, you will see an unmarked trail on the north side of Liberty Cap Trail. This trail takes you to the rim of a branch of Monument Canyon. After 0.65 miles, it reaches the tip of a narrow slickrock peninsula where steep slopes and rocky formations make it hard to hike any further. I am not sure which one of the area formations is known as Otto’s Bathtub. Please refer to the External Link at the bottom of the page. Views of the canyons from this spot are fantastic. I wonder why the park service does not show this trail on its maps.






Getting There

Upper Trailhead
Liberty Cap Trailhead sits on the park’s Rim Rock Drive 11 miles from the west entrance of the park and 12 miles from the east entrance.

Lower Trailhead
From the junction of Monument Rd and Broadway (Route 340) in Grand Junction, drive 2.9 miles west and turn left onto Redlands Parkway which later becomes South Broadway. After 1.3 miles, turn left onto Wildwood Dr. and see the trailhead parking shortly.

Route Description

This is a description of the trail from the upper trailhead to Otto’s Bathtub and then down to the lower trailhead.

Place
Elevation
Distance
Upper Trailhead
6500 ft
zero miles
Otto’s Bathtub Trail Junction
6200ft
3.35 miles
Edge of plateau
5950 ft
1.65 miles
Lower Trailhead
4770 ft
2.0 miles
Total One Way
-
7.0 miles


Otto’s Bathtub Roundtrip
-
1.3 miles



The trail starts by traveling over the surface of the plateau in a juniper forest.

Near upper trailhead
 
Near upper trailhead
 


You will only get glimpses of the red colored canyons below.

On the surface of the plateau
 
On the surface of the plateau
 


A range of eroded mountains known as Book Cliffs can be seen to the distant northeast.

Zoomed view of Book Cliffs
Book Cliffs


The trail goes down in elevation somewhat but still remains on the surface of the plateau.

On the surface of the plateau
 
On the surface of the plateau
 


To the north, you get a view into one of the branches of Monument Canyon.

A branch of Monument Canyon
Branch of Monument Canyon
A branch of Monument Canyon
Branch of Monument Canyon


Otto’s Bathtub Trail

At GPS coordinates 39 degree 3.699 minute North, 108 degree 41.704 minute West you will reach an unsigned trail on the north. This is the trail to Otto’s Bathtub. This 1.3 mile roundtrip trail will get you spectacular views of Monument Canyon and is well worth the extra effort. Turn left (north) onto this trail until you reach the slickrock edge of the canyon.

Edge of Monument Canyon
 
Branch of Monument Canyon
 


Continue north until after 0.65 miles from Liberty Cap Trail you reach a slickrock peninsula where hiking further north becomes difficult/impossible. Many interesting slickrock formations can be seen here. I am not sure which one is Otto’s Bathtub.

Otto s Bathtub Area
 
Otto s Bathtub Area
 
Otto s Bathtub Area
 
Otto s Bathtub Area
 


Great views of a branch of Monument Canyon.

Monument Canyon
 
Branch of Monument Canyon
 
Branch of Monument Canyon
 
Monument Canyon
 


Returning to Liberty Cap Trail

Grand Mesa will be in view. This is said to be the largest flat-top mountain in the world.

Grand Mesa
Grand Mesa, largest flat-top mountain in the world


You will soon reach the edge of the plateau. Standing at an elevation of 5950 ft, the city of Grand Junction can be seen 1200-1300 feet below.

From edge of the plateau
 
From edge of the plateau
 
From edge of the plateau
 
From edge of the plateau
 


The trail then makes a number of tight switchbacks going down a very steep slope.

Looking down the tight steep switchbacks
Looking down the steep switchbacks


Looking back up from the bottom of the switchbacks.

Looking up to the tight steep switchbacks
Looking up the steep switchbacks


Liberty Cap will now appear.

Liberty Cap
Liberty Cap


Continuing down, sometimes on airy ledges.

Airy edge
Airy edge
On Liberty Cap Trail
 
Trail carved in the cliff
Trail carved in cliff
Near the junction with Corkscrew & Ute Canyon Trails
 


Continue downhill beyond the junctions with Corkscrew and Ute Canyon Trails. As you go down, the rock turns black. This black layer is said to belong to the Precambrian period whereas the red rock higher up is a newer Chinle Formation.

Black Precambrian Rock
Lower black Precambrian rock


The last steep section.

Last steep section before lower trailhead
 


Near lower trailhead.

Grand Mesa, near lower trailhead
Grand Mesa
Book Cliffs, near lower trailhead
Book Cliffs
Cliffs of Colorado National Monument
Cliffs of Colorado National Monument
Cliffs of Colorado National Monument
Cliffs of Colorado National Monument

Essential Gear

Hiking boots.

External Links

Otto's Bathtub Trail.

Images

Liberty CapMonument CanyonMonument CanyonA branch of Monument CanyonCliffs of Colorado National MonumentEdge of Monument CanyonOtto\'s Bathtub Area
Otto\'s Bathtub AreaFrom edge of the plateauOtto\'s Bathtub AreaLooking down the tight steep switchbacksOtto\'s Bathtub AreaOn the surface of the plateauLooking up to the tight steep switchbacks
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