Looking for possible weekend backpacking destinations, my friend Adelle and I decided to check out the Kannah Creek Trail just outside of Grand Junction, Colorado, off of Highway 50. Our mission was three-fold:
- To find a creek and review the Sawyer filtration system I had with me
- Look for some camping spots within two miles of the trailhead
- Give the dogs some exercise.
Part 1 was easy, and you can read that review here.
To get to the lower Kannah Creek trailhead, follow Highway 50 south out of Grand Junction for about 12 miles to the turn off for Land’s End Road. After almost three miles turn right and right again, following the signs for Kannah Creek Road. Continue for 6.7 miles or so, and you’ll see a parking area on the right, just before a bridge. Park here; the trailhead will be visible from the parking area.
The Kannah Creek Trail climbs eight miles from Kannah Creek Road to Carson Lake and the top of the Grand Mesa. During those eight miles it gains 4,000ft of elevation. The trail starts around 6,000ft and rises to the Grand Mesa’s elevation of just over 10,000ft.
For a weekend trip, I reasoned the easiest thing to do would be to drive out to the trailhead after work on a Friday (it’s about 20 minutes outside of town), hike in about two miles, and pitch camp. On Saturday we could hike to the lake and camp that night and then hike the eight miles downhill out on Sunday.
We wanted to look for places where others had already camped. The Kannah Creek trail is part of the Grand Mesa National Forest, and we wanted to stick to the dispersed camping guidelines, which include trying to camp where others have camped previously.
Along the way we discovered that while the trail did continue at a steady climb, it wasn’t a lung-busting ascent. The trail started steeply and then leveled off after about .4 miles. Along the way we were able to tackle goal number 3:
We did see evidence of horses, but saw no other people or animals on the trail. Kannah Creek is open to horses, hikers and mountain bikers only, and most of it is singletrack.
We discovered at least four possible camp sites within the first two miles of trail. Some were too close to the trail for our liking, but we had two definite possibilities, including this spot:
After all of our exploration, we headed down the trail and were able to catch glimpses of ridgelines high above us.