Ute Canyon Trail

Page Type
Colorado, United States, North America
Route Type:
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Time Required:
Half a day

Route Quality: 0 Votes

791 Hits
83.69% Score
Log in
to vote
Page By:
Ute Canyon Trail
Created On: Apr 30, 2016
Last Edited On: Oct 27, 2017


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.

Getting There

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”)

Route Description

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.

Ute Canyon
Ute Canyon

The well-constructed trail takes you down the walls/steep slopes of the canyon.

Descending into Ute Canyon

At the bottom of the canyon you will find tall grass and deciduous trees. The trail follows a small stream heading southeast.

Ute Canyon
Ute Canyon

You will then reach a rocky place where the stream can be seen at the bottom of a small “gorge”.

Small gorge

Ute Canyon makes a 90 degree turn here and starts to head northeast.

Ute Canyon
Ute Canyon
Ute Canyon
Ute Canyon

Continuing down the canyon.

Ute Canyon
Ute Canyon
Ute Canyon
Ute Canyon

Further down.

Ute Canyon
Ute Canyon
Ute Canyon
Ute 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.

Wall at the end of Ute Canyon
Junction with Corkscrew Trail

Essential Gear

Hiking boots.