Now there's a civilized trailhead and obvious trail for grown-ups like me to enjoy monumental splendors from a safe distance and in short time and effort.
From Downtown Grand Junction drive the Grand Avenue Bridge past Safeway and the Two Rivers Winery. At 8.5 miles from 4th and Rood take a left onto South Broadway. Follow South Broadway to the Gold Star Trailhead on the right/south side of the road.
Praying Hands Loop Trail- 1 mile of repentance.
Overdue for a Monument hike with my Randi wife and baby Asa, I wanted a distraction from the most frequented trailheads. I set the objective of seeing the "Praying Hands Towers" just right of Gold Star Canyon. A narrow path leads to the dark chasm of lower Gold Star Canyon. Follow the path but stay in the light and crossing the usually dry drainage then ascend right of a fallen sandstone slab. The trail winds steeply up right and west of lower Gold Star Canyon. At the junction turn right for the short and scenic Praying Hands Loop.
Take in saintly views of Gold Star Canyon, Corner Spire, Eagle Rock, Tiara Tower and myriad other "town spires" that watch over our daily lives.
Say your prayers and contemplate greater things as you pass beneath the huge praying sandstone hands. The Bench Trail traverses a half-mile or so from the junction then gently lowers hikers to a rock flanked saddle.
This little sanctuary offers a place to break bread with distant views of Mushroom Rock, Independence Monolith and the Island in the Sky and overlooks the popular rock climbing slabs.
After giving thanks for resplendent views continue on the well-worn path east down the cleft to sage flats. The path parallels the buffalo fence back to the Gold Star Trailhead.
Be tempted by the mazelike White rocks or black rock gorge above. Please stay on established paths and off the living crust designed to support life on desert soil... until it's stepped on. Pray for the forgiveness of others who step unwisely, for you've had a perfect day staying straight and narrow on my sanctified loop.
Camping can be had at the Saddlehorn Campground at the top of the Fruita Entrance of the Monument. Free safe camping is available at the northern extreme of the popular mountain bike area of 18 Road just north of Fruita Colorado.