Crags Crest Trail on the Grand Mesa designated a National Recreation Trail near Grand Junction, CO is like no other hike you will find in Colorado. Rocky paths, serene forests, and 360º views of western Colorado’s valleys, lakes, and high peaks are incredible. One hike you won’t forget!

Just driving up and exploring the Grand Mesa, the largest flattop mountain in the world is enough but add this hike and you will see the best it has to offer.


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Our hike began at the West Trailhead #117 and shortly after we turned left at the signpost for Crags Crest Loop and Cottonwood Lake.

A pretty meadow and a short forest was the start but soon changed to a switchback of rocky terrain, and I mean rocky! Not too difficult but certainly trickier and watching our feet became a priority!



The views begin shortly after we began the hike and soon spotted our first lake of many more to come. There are 299 more lakes like this located throughout the Grand Mesa. 

Visit the Visitor Center for information on all the Grand Mesa has to offer. 



After a series of switchbacks, it’s a beautiful stroll through a lush forest of pines with an occasional view looking out to the beyond.




It changes soon enough and gets much more interesting as we ascend again on a narrow rocky path that feels like it’s headed to the skies.





It was stepping out of the forest that we had our first glimpse of the vast panoramic views, the first of many more ahead.

Not to be taken lightly. It’s a high altitude trail, dehydration plus fickle weather is always something to consider. For a look at practical gear that we love at Crazy About Colorado and have in our backpacks on every hike. > CLICK HERE






Looks intimidating but wasn’t at all when we reached the summit of Crags Crest. It’s a craggy ridge with 360º views that were mind-boggling. Hike this on a clear day and you can see all the way to Utah and the San Juan Mountains. Our day was smoky from fires in California but non-the-less the views were still far-reaching.



After the Summit, we keep going far along the talus-strewn ridgeline echoing with the sounds of Pikas running about. Definitely my favorite part of the trail! To be steady and safer I highly recommend trekking poles.






As the trees thickened again we headed back the way we came. You can make this hike a 10.3-mile loop back to your car. Keep going deeper into the forest and when you reach a junction for the Crag Crest Campground/East Trailhead. Take a right here to finish the loop on Crag Crest Trail #711-1A.

Adventurous hike, you will love it. I found it more moderate than hard, just tricky in spots, take it slow and enjoy!


Trail #711

6.5 miles

Rated: hard

Elevation Start: 10,262′ End: 11,216′


Nearest Town: Cedaridge, CO

Grand Mesa National Forest

Map of the Grand Mesa 



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Note: Many of the links are affiliate links which means I receive a very small commission (at no added cost to you).