Explore the most popular river trails in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

hiking
5 days ago

We hiked it yesterday, down to the river, car to car, in a touch under four hours. We're in pretty good shape for a couple of 50 year olds, have been in better shape; but it gave us a heck of a challenge. I fortunately still had my scrambling gloves in my backpack, and it's a good thing I did.

You will need a permit to go down this trail. Usual stuff. Make sure you have enough water, food, rain gear . . . Looking forward to doing it again next time we're in the area.

Definitely for experienced hikers who are not afraid of some risk and hard work. Took an hour twenty down moving quickly and two hours up with a lot of breaks in the heat of the afternoon. Definitely worth the trip. trail was discernible and traceable on the way up, just pay attention going down and once you get down, the ranger intends to be overly cautious. Be sure to get a wilderness permit I was checked as soon as I got on the trail (free). Be prepared and enjoy a gorgeous hike

Nice easy hike with the kids to the best view on the south rim!

10 days ago

This trail isn't meant the be done in a day unless you are in top shape. I was sore for days. The trail itself is obvious in most places but has a spot or two where the trail is hard to see on the way back. the view is good at the bottom, but it's not worth doing unless you're an avid fisherman.

This trail was beautiful and very fun and easy for the kiddos. Lots of interesting facts alongside the trail

Easy hike, following the trail guide out to the end. Nice views of the surrounding area. Last trail at the end of the road, small parking lot but parking wasn't too bad.

Quick walk out to the edge with some great views. Nobody on the trail.

Another great hike in the park!

Much easier up than down!

1 month ago

Really challenging but worth every step.

hiking
1 month ago

Very adventuresome! I enjoyed the challenge it presented!

My friend and I did this very short hike last Sunday (6/3) after having spent the previous two days hiking down near Telluride. We hiked around 22 miles on our two day adventure, so the 1.5 mile round trip trek was a bit more strenuous for us than for some of the others who were just beginning their journey.

It was a little overcast when we started our hike around 10 am, but the sun came out in full force once we reached the viewpoint, and it illuminated the canyon in spectacular fashion. Definitely one of the more panoramic views among the 12 stops along the "Scenic Drive", but the "Painted Wall" still may have been my favorite amongst the options.

I would love to return to this National Park when I have some more time to explore the canyon and hike around. Definitely worth while for hikers of all ages and fitness levels!

Hiked 5/28/18, very few other hikers around. Steady incline towards the back end as you reach the summit. Views are amazing along the way definitely stop at exclamation point along the way!! The top has a lot of greenery but if you can stand up high the views are well worth it.

Like this place better then mt Garfield

hiking
1 month ago

After looking down at the river from the North Rim yesterday it was great to actually get to see the river this close. Absolutely Beautiful

hiking
2 months ago

What a hike! My husband and I did this hike in late May. It was perfect weather for hiking. The ranger who issued our wilderness permit made the route sound much more difficult than it really was. Most of the hike was through loose talus and scree and made for some unsure footing at times. The view at the bottom makes the hike worth it. We loved the 80 foot chain. Fun dayhike!

hiking
2 months ago

good hike; a bit more exposed to the sun (and hotter in the pm) than the Gunnison Route. Also less scree/talus than Gunnison, but more loose dirt and packed dirt covered with small/medium sized pebbles that can sit you down in a hurry. as of 5/16/18, all snow/ice is long gone and the walk is quite dry. roughly 1:45 down and the same time back up. the bottom has some great sunning/relaxation spots, so plan to spend some time down there before slogging back up. you can filter nice cold water straight from the river for a great refresher.

hiking
2 months ago

great dayhike; definitely sketchy footing in some areas with plenty of scree and talus fields. combined with the poor footing, the grade is steep enough to provide good entertainment even for fit people.

My GF and I hiked this trail a few days ago and really enjoyed the experience. The views from various points along the trail were stunning. From the summit of Green Mountain you can see so much of the surrounding area. A quick note: if you take the detour for Exclamation Point (which we highly recommend) it ends up being a little bit over 7 miles round trip. Also, by way of advance notice, you'll need to take along $20 for the entry permit. While you're there, don't pass up the short .25 mile Chasm View, which provides a safe way to view straight down into the Black Canyon and the Gunnison river below.

My husband said it was one of his favorite hikes ever. The route down was difficult because it was pretty steep. Also, we had to stop a few times to turn around and video record directions for the correct route to take back up. There is no real trail and there appeared to be many different possible “paths” to take you back up. Having the videos to refer to helped a lot on the way back because even though we thought we had the route memorized, everything looks so similar that we did question some possible paths. But the view at the bottom is spectacular. We brought a nice lunch to enjoy at the bottom. The climb up was painful. We did this hike early spring and though we’re young (25 years old) we hadn’t worked out all winter but made it up just fine.

hiking
3 months ago

Did this hike in mid-April when snow was starting to melt considerably. The path was not icy, but we did not get to the bottom!

Beautiful views at the start, and the pathways were largely snow free (although muddy). As you turn for the 'final' descent downwards it gets considerably trickier. As someone with eyes bigger than my stomach, I was up for it, my partner who isn't a fan of slope-scrambles didn't want to go any further.

This is a hike where you have to be confident about slip sliding down some pretty rocky path whilst knowing you're coming back up there a few hours later!

It is an amazing, easy to follow hike and the river (which we visited in another spot later) would be well worth the trip. But it is difficult, tiring, and the view as you descend further starts to disappear behind trees, so you have to be committed.

Saw some very large tracks - maybe elk. Also saw a very stupid wild turkey pottering about at the top.

As everyone else says, go to the visitor centre, get advice from a ranger and remember you cannot do this without a wilderness permit.

Beautiful views for a nice short hike. One of the best views on the south rim!

hiking
3 months ago

“Hiked” this in late March while there was still snow on the ground. The route was very icy until about 2/3rd of the way to the river. The rest was scree field. Very steep, dangerous hike but absolutely worth the challenge. With ice on the ground, it took much longer to complete (5+ hours round trip). Could not have completed the hike without crampons. An ice axe was also an invaluable tool for most of the hike. Easily the most treacherous hike I’ve ever done.

hiking
3 months ago

Easy. and quick hike. Great views!

hiking
3 months ago

Nice small hike. Nice views.

Beautiful sunset lights up the West Elk Mountains pink. Then I saw a huge full moon rise up from behind the peaks. Stunning. Definitely recommended for sunset!

Intense and steep hike, would not recommend when snow is present due to slipping risks. Beautiful views of the Gunnison river at the bottom, followed by a challenging climb back up. Trail is unmarked for the most part (a few cairns here or there), so take note of your route back when descending. Took about 3.5 hours in snow round trip, but definitely worth it - do a trip on the Rim Drive after, and look down to really put the feat in perspective!

hiking
8 months ago

This was probably one of the hardest hike I've ever attempted (simply because of the elevation - about 8000ft at the top, and I'm not acclimatized yet), and while the views at the bottom were nice, I would say that the "reward" wasn't worth the intense effort. Maybe if it was during the summer, and you spent more time at the bottom in the water, etc...
I was able to get from the South Rim Visitor Center down to the bottom in 35 minutes, and it took me 50mins to get back up, but I was by myself and was going quickly. Shaded by trees most of the way down, so there weren't too many occasions to enjoy the view.

Another short and easy overlook trail. This spot also has a very nice view of the Painted Wall. And of the several lookouts that I visited, this one had the best unobstructed view of the Gunnison River running through the canyon far below.

hiking
8 months ago

Loved it! The feat of reaching the river and looking up is worth any questioning or fear on the way down. Just remember which route you took down as there is no trail per se or markers.

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