Warner Route is a 4.2 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Montrose, Colorado that features a river and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until October.

4.2 miles
3,028 feet
Out & Back





nature trips








no dogs

A beautiful and steep hike down to a fantastic canyon and Gold Medal Water and Wild Trout Water designated river. A backcountry pass (required) can be obtained at the South Rim Ranger Station which you'll pass on the way to the trailhead. The rangers can also be helpful in directing you to the trailhead. Access is not straightforward. The trail achieves most of it's 3,000 foot elevation change in under 3 miles so it's not for the faint of heart. Camping at the bottom is limited but adequate for the number of backcountry passes allotted per day. Some are upriver of where the trail meets the river, as is the one camp toilet. Others are slightly downriver and are, arguably, better. This is a wilderness designated area so the utmost care must be made to leave it as it is. No fires, no cairns, no trail markers of any kind, no assembling benches or tabled from rock and logs. Aside from the luxury of a toilet at the bottom, it's true backcountry. You need a "inner canyon permit" for this route and the rangers at the visitor center can give you valuable advice.

1 month ago

Warner route is a lot of intense slopes up and down. You should be ready for that. There are a few forks on the way up that can mislead you off the way. Requires some scouting at times. We benefitted from download of the trail. Although it was very exhausting for me towards the end, I am happy that I could do it.

1 month ago

The loose rocks make it slow for the distance. It’s not an easy hike. If you’re in good shape, it should take you about 5 hours total. If you’re not in great shape, I wouldn’t recommend it at all...

3 months ago

This was definitely the hardest hike I have ever done. It didn’t help that we were backpacking in. 2400 feet of the elevation gain/loss occurs in the last mile. Lots of scrambling and climbing. Bring walking sticks for they way down.

The trail is exposed most of the way, and can get very hot in the afternoon. It is hot at the bottom too.

At the bottom, the campsites are somewhat hard to find. There are a few close to the outhouse, and a few to your left when you reach the bottom.

Fishing is not great, unfortunately, so don’t make this hike for the sole purpose of fishing. It isn’t worth it.

Still, I give this hike 4 stars, because it is like another world at the bottom. There are no people there, and you feel completely isolated from the outside world. Two thunderstorms passed while we were camping, and the way the sky lights up and the thunder echoes off the steep canyon walls, you would think you were in London during the blitz.

4 months 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.

4 months 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.

5 months ago

Really challenging but worth every step.

5 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.

6 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.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Did this hike with my son on 7/21/17. It was tougher than we expected, especially going down. It took us nearly 3 hours to get down thanks to the sheer steepness. It was 2.5 coming back up. Beautiful at the bottom where we did a little swimming in the very cold Gunnison River. Don't underestimate this hike due to its shortness.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

A very fun hike. We went down in the morning and spent the afternoon fishing, and then returned the following day. For a relatively inexperienced hiker (but an avid runner), it wasn't terribly hard. Went with a group of 4 (no experienced hikers), and we went down in 2.5 hours and back up in 3 hours. There's large, flat rock about halfway down that offers an amazing view and shade to relax.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Solid hike very steep coming back up!

Monday, May 29, 2017

You need a "inner canyon permit" for this route and the rangers at the visitor center will give you valuable advice. E.g. they explained me the difference between "route" and "trail", the former being rough and unmaintained.

The root itself starts between markers 13 and 14 on the Warner lookout self-guided trail. You can see it by a sign on the left hand side saying "wilderness permit required".
Then it gently goes down to the saddle. From the saddle, the fun begins, unmerciful descend down the canyon. Hiking poles recommended, some places are tricky and recommend using your butt. As a reward, you get amazing views and a sandy beach on the bottom of the deepest point of the canyon. There is also a toilet to relieve all stress accumulated by the steep downhill.
Going up is technically much simpler, although your tights would disagree.
If you in a pretty good shape and an experienced hiker, you can run down in ~1h, and go up in ~2:30h. But would recommend allocating the whole day in any case.

7 months ago

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Sunday, May 28, 2017