is of of the main geographical features of the Grand Valley, the Bookcliffs rise sharply to form a striking scenic wall stretches deep into Utah. In the Grand Junction area, the Bookcliffs top top out at a height of 6,765 feet in Mount Garfield. The short but challenging Mount Garfield Trail climbs to the top just west of the town of Palisade. The trail is only 2 miles long, but is ascends over 2,000 feet.
Elevation: 4800 to 6765 feet
Hiking Time: ~ 4 hrs
Season: Year round
From a trailhead, the Mount Garfield Trail
heads north across a level area to reach a steep sided ridge of Mancos Shale. Following the spine of this ridge, the route climbs a very strenuous grade for the next 0.5 mile. Deposited in a shallow sea over 75 million years ago during the Cretaceous period, Mancos Shale is a soft clay-like material that swells greatly when wen at shrinks upon drying. Because of this, few plants can grow in the soil, thereby allowing rapid erosion. Mancos Shale is very slick and gooey when wet, so this hike is dangerous after a rain or snowfall.
After gaining approximately 600 feet along this ridge of Mancos Shale, the route continues to climb up a slope strewn with boulders of the Mesa Verde Group sandstones. Eventually, the trail reaches a shelf of relatively level ground with some grassy areas. From here, the Mount Garfield Trail climbs to a saddle just below the rim above. Beyond this climb, it is a short distance farther to the crest of the Book Cliffs. From the crest, the trail continues less than 0.5 mile west to the summit of Mount Garfield.
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