When you think of Grand Junction, mountain biking probably comes to mind. That’s because it’s an ideal location to push yourself to the limit on two wheels. For various reasons, I stay on my feet, and while it’s a top mountain biking destination, Grand Junction is an ideal spot to hike.
We browsed several online maps of Grand Junction and were shocked to see how many trails are in the area. It’s a literal barrage of a well thought-out connected trail system. Trails have names like Devil’s Kitchen and Kid’s Meal. The last one isn’t a cake walk as it’s rated as moderate, however, it is only a 1.5 mile loop.
The thing about Grand Junction, located in Mesa County, is that there really is a trail for every level of hiker. Want to go birding in Grand Junction? Take the paved Blue Heron Audubon Loop. We were on part of the trail during our visit earlier this month. Trees were barely budding and the grass was still brown, but the birds were wide awake and their chirps were in surround sound.
We knew that our trip to Grand Junction was going to include a dog-friendly hike. After perusing maps and chatting with a server and a local at a dog-park, we discovered Clunker. Part of the Lunch Loops trail system, Clunker is short but it hooks up to a bunch of other trails.
They’re called the Lunch Loops because you can do them during a lunch hour. The trailhead is just 8 minutes from Downtown Grand Junction up Monument Road. Now that’s easy hiking access!
After a full-English breakfast, complete with sausage and beans, we headed out. We had discovered, the evening before, while enjoying a Bass beer at The Goat & Clover Tavern, that their brunch menu offered a full English breakfast, something we hadn’t seen anywhere since our trip to England in 2003. It had to be part of our Grand Junction experience and it was delicious.
Our food barely had time to digest before we were at the Lunch Loops Trailhead. Loaded up with water, sunscreen and dog treats, we set out. The Clunker trail goes down, down, down and before long we found ourselves at the bottom of something like a large bowl rimmed with trails. As we passed an old rusted car, I realized where Clunker got its name.
Dogs can be off-leash as this is public land. In fact, 76 percent of Mesa County land is public, making it a paradise for everything from OHVs to hikers (not to mention dogs). Mountain bikers take advantage of the Lunch Loops so make sure your dog is under control.
Being a responsible dog owner means bringing water for the dog (and you). There are no trees so shade can be hard to find on the Lunch Loops. Thankfully, we were visiting in spring and had perfect weather for any outdoor activity.
One of the best aspects of hiking the Lunch Loops is the view of Grand Junction. Sometimes the city comes into focus as you round a corner, other times it’s laid out before you like a postcard. Best of all, you can do a trail loop here and avoid that steep descent Clunker takes from the trailhead. I think about these things because I hate hiking uphill.
As the sun rose higher in the sky, bikes began to appear. Some were on our trail, some were on ridge trails above us. It is a popular area for recreation, but being that this is a big, open space, people were spread out, and for the most part, we had the trail to ourselves.
As anyone with a dog could probably guess, Fritzi had the time of her life. She hiked twice as far as we did, running up the trail and then back to us in a back and forth pattern. We kindly removed ourselves and Fritzi from the trail when a bike and rider appeared. Everyone was so nice, and I do mean everyone.
We spent a couple hours on the trail before finding ourselves back at the start, feeling accomplished. Not only had we tired out Fritzi, still under two-years-old, we’d done the Grand Junction Lunch Loops. On the way back to Hotel Maverick, we rewarded ourselves with frozen yogurt at Sugar & Ice.
For 12 Incredible Hikes in Grand Junction go here.
By the way, if you want to go on an all-day hiking excursion to the Grand Mesa or the Colorado National Monument, Cafe Sol will pack a lunch for you.
Read On the Road in Grand Junction, Colorado: Ride with Adrenaline Driven Adventures.
Travel in collaboration with Visit Grand Junction.
Another interesting post from Grand Junction. Mesa county offers so much for those that love the outdoors. I don’t believe I have ever seen a post on Grand Mesa. You’ll enjoy a summer outing on the Mesa. Give it a try one of these days.
Richard, I have been there! It was wonderful. I think I saw more wildflowers than I’ve ever seen before. Then, in Meeker, we ran into a husband/wife team that runs cattle up on the Mesa. They spend all summer with them and then round them up and take them back down. They have a bunch of dogs and horses. A real cowboy and cowgirl.
Thanks for stopping by HeidiTown again! Here is my piece on the Grand Mesa. We definitely need to go back.
Love that area! This last year I’ve been trying to walk a hour each day. Wish I could walk those trails each day for my walk.
Although dog are allowed off leash on BLM land, they still need to be under voice control. There are plenty of distractions, and dangers lurking in this part of CO that were not mentioned in this piece that might lead people to believe our trails on the west slope are a free-for-all. There are plenty of wildlife, and it’s against the law for dogs to chase them, so if you don’t have a 100% recall under any and all types of distaste one your dogs SHOULD NEVER be off leash. Another part of being a responsible dog owner is making sure you clean up after your dogs which also was not mentioned in this piece, and a big problem on all CO trails. That doesn’t mean to leave bags for others to clean up since you don’t want to carry their poop with you, it means being responsible and packing out anything they might leave on or off the trails as dog waste is one of the greatest contributors to water bacteria from the runoff. Additionally, we have a lot of crypto biotic soil which takes thousands of years to form, so your dog should NEVER leave the designated trail to run amok or sniff around. I, too, am a dog lover and have had German Shepherds my entire life, and they stick right behind me the entire time ensuring they don’t ruin any of the soil off the trail. It’s these types of stories that are ruining our area of CO, same as the Front Range bc ppl aren’t being given all the right info. It’s vitally important that people writing these articles start highlighting these things, and stop pretending like the backcountry is for their dogs. It takes a high level of training, and this misleads ppl into thinking it’s easy, and there’s nothing else to consider other than packing water for them. This is highly disappointing, and I fear the type of ppl this article will draw to our area which has been overrun since 2020 by people who don’t respect the land the way they should.
Unfair topaint this article in a bad manner the writer did mention that you need to make sure your dog is under voice control if allowed off leash. Having to pick up after your dog’s waste abdcarry it out shouldn’t have to be mentioned because it should beunderstood by all dog owners however people being the idiots they are seem to have to be told every thing like it’s the first they heard of it and by the way since you were so incensed about the lack of mentioning the picking up after your dog what about mentioning picking up and carrying out stuff from your self trash etc…you didn’t even mentioned that so lets not vilify a person for forgetting to mention something we all should already be aware of and already know to do.
Mesa county is home to a large rattle snake population. And while it’s rare I would be extremely careful hiking with a dog off leash in many of these areas. Unless you’re on top of the grand mesa I would keep your dogs close with you.
That’s good advice in a lot of areas in Colorado. A friend of mine was jogging at Devil’s Backbone, a popular hike in Loveland. She saw a rattlesnake in the trail a little late and had to jump over it! There are tons of dogs on that trail too, so watch out when letting the dog off the leash, for sure.