Liberty Cap & Otto's Bathtub Trails

Liberty Cap & Otto's Bathtub Trails

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 39.05546°N / 108.73692°W
Additional Information GPX File: Download GPX » View Route on Map
Additional Information Route Type: Hiking
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Additional Information Time Required: Half a day
Additional Information Difficulty: Hike
Sign the Climber's Log

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 CliffsBook 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 CanyonBranch of Monument Canyon
A branch of Monument CanyonBranch 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 MesaGrand 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 switchbacksLooking down the steep switchbacks


Looking back up from the bottom of the switchbacks.

Looking up to the tight steep switchbacksLooking up the steep switchbacks


Liberty Cap will now appear.

Liberty CapLiberty Cap


Continuing down, sometimes on airy ledges.

Airy edgeAiry edge
On Liberty Cap Trail
Trail carved in the cliffTrail 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 RockLower black Precambrian rock


The last steep section.

Last steep section before lower trailhead


Near lower trailhead.

Grand Mesa, near lower trailheadGrand Mesa
Book Cliffs, near lower trailheadBook Cliffs
Cliffs of Colorado National MonumentCliffs of Colorado National Monument
Cliffs of Colorado National MonumentCliffs of Colorado National Monument

Essential Gear

Hiking boots.

External Links

Otto's Bathtub Trail.


Parents 

Parents

Parents refers to a larger category under which an object falls. For example, theAconcagua mountain page has the 'Aconcagua Group' and the 'Seven Summits' asparents and is a parent itself to many routes, photos, and Trip Reports.