Park service categorizes Ute Canyon Trail as “unmaintained” but I found it to be well defined. The trail starts on Colorado National Monument’s Rim Rock Drive at an elevation of 6440 ft. It immediately begins to go down the red colored walls of the canyon dropping 550 vertical feet in only half a mile to reach the bottom of the canyon where a fairly lush riparian environment can be found. The trail then follows the beautiful bottom of the canyon to end after a total of 4.1 miles at the junction with Corkscrew and then Liberty Cap Trail
. From this junction, you could continue another mile downhill to the Lower Liberty Cap Trailhead or 6 miles uphill to the Upper Liberty Cap Trailhead back on top of the mesa. A third option is to go onto the unsigned Bench Trail to reach White Rocks Trailhead 6 miles further.
Ute Canyon Trailhead sits on Rim Rock Drive roughly 10 miles from the park’s eastern entrance (not to be confused with “Ute Canyon View” or “Upper Ute Canyon Overlook”)
This is a description of Ute Trail from the top trailhead to the junction with Liberty Cap Trail.
|Ute Canyon Trailhead||6440 ft||zero miles
|Bottom of Canyon||5900 ft||0.50 miles
|Junction with Corkscrew Trail||5530 ft||3.60 miles
|Junction with Liberty Cap Trail||5530 ft||0.20 miles
|Total One Way||-||4.30 miles
The great red walls of Ute Canyon are in good view at the upper trailhead.
The well-constructed trail takes you down the walls/steep slopes of the canyon.
At the bottom of the canyon you will find tall grass and deciduous trees. The trail follows a small stream heading southeast.
You will then reach a rocky place where the stream can be seen at the bottom of a small “gorge”.
Ute Canyon makes a 90 degree turn here and starts to head northeast.
Continuing down the canyon.
Once the trail goes beyond this wall, it turns left and reaches the signed junction first with Corkscrew Trail and 0.2 mile later with Liberty Cap Trail.