Seventeen S-s-snakey Switchbacks (possibly more)
This hike, in Colorado National Monument, is along a road built in the early 1920’s to connect residents of Glade Park and Grand Junction. Dubbed the “Crookedest Road in the World”, the trail certainly lives up to its name. In 1950 the east side of Rim Rock Drive was finished and the old road was closed to vehicular travel.
This out-and-back signed hike begins at the Devil’s Kitchen trailhead, across the road from the main parking lot. Wide enough for at least 5 people to walk side-by-side (remember, it used to be a road), the trail is mostly gravel with some occasional slickrock peeking through.
There is virtually no “warmup” to the hike (unless you start at the top) and you’ll immediately begin a constant, gradual climb to the top. I quit counting the number of switchbacks, but the GPS track shows there are at least seventeen (depending on how you decide something is a switchback versus a turn).
Along the way you’ll be offered views of No Thoroughfare Canyon, the Grand Valley, and the Book Cliffs in the distance. You’ll also get the opportunity to see the amount of road-building that took place during construction. Occasionally you can see the more modern road that today connects Grand Junction and Glade Park. You’ll probably also see bike riders toiling up the paved road or careening down. Brave souls!
In about 45 minutes you’ll reach the top of the trail. Return the way you came and enjoy the easy stroll back to the parking lot.
This hike appeared to be more of a “I hike this trail every morning to get my daily exercise”, based on the dozen or so folks we saw without backpacks or water bottles. It would be a good place to practice trail running, especially if you’re wanting to get in some hill work. To quote Blake: “Sure beats a treadmill!”.
There are no water sources along the trail and almost zero shade. Mountain bikes and dogs are forbidden.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.