Ribbon TrailDate: 5/20/2013
Miles: 7 Round Trip
Time: 4 hours
Elevation Gain: 1437 ft
Trailhead GPS Coordinates: Upper: 38° 59.674’N , 108° 38.546’W , Lower: 39° 1.257’N , 108° 36.567’W
View Ribbon Trail in a larger map
The Ribbon Trail is located within the Bangs Canyon Recreational Area and basically connects the Lunch Loop trail system to the upper section of Little Park Road. There are two access points to the trail, the lower access point and the main upper trail head.
To access the upper trail head from the intersection of First Street and Grand Avenue in Grand Junction, travel west on Grand Avenue (Highway 340) for approximately one mile and turn left on Monument Road. Turn left again on D Road. D Road becomes Rosevale Road. Turn right onto Little Park Road. Travel approximately 10 miles to Ribbon Trailhead on the right.
Unless you are in really good shape or are feeling really rambunctious, I would recommend making this hike a shuttle hike. You can park one vehicle at the top or bottom then drive to the other trail head and go from there. The BLM Website lists the trail as being 3.1 miles one way. My GPS read right at 7miles round trip. Although either distance doesn’t sound like much, no matter which way you go you will be tired at the end.
This post will describe it from the lower trail to the upper trail head.
The trail begins by following the Andy’s Loop trail down to the bottom of the canyon. Once at the bottom if you go right you can take Andy’s Loop and if you bear to the left you will be on the ribbon trail. There is a nice trail marker indicating the proper path.
The lower section of the trail is fairly level as it follows along the usually dry wash. After a short time you will come to the end of the wash and a rather steep section that climbs out and onto an upper section. This portion of the trail required me to use my hands to help balance and climb my way out of the wash.
Once out of the wash the trail rises gradually as it makes its way to the next canyon. Once at the canyon the trail follows along the rim until it drops down to a neat little small “pothole” area. There are quite a few little potholes in the floor of the canyon along this section.
Once you cross the hopefully dry wash you are at the halfway point and the real challenge begins. From this point on it is uphill the entire way. The trail follows along the rim of the small canyon then opens up to a long, sliver of slick rock. Once a the top of this sliver of slickrock the trail cuts through a few trees then drops down onto another long, long sliver of slickrock that runs along a small little cliff until it opens up onto another larger expanse of stone.
Once again the trail cuts through a small section of trees and exits out onto yet another vast expanse of slickrock. Did I say this trail is full of giant slickrock areas?
Once you make it over this current slickrock sea you will come upon some really red rocks. The trail drops down a little then climbs up a very steep section of red sandstone. This section was probably the most technical section of the whole trail. Given the sheer angle of the sandstone couple with my heavy back pack I was required to do some fairly fancy scrambling on my hands and knees to make it up the initial beginning. My poor trail dog Zoe had to make three attempts before she finally clawed and slid her way up. Although it was steep, the sandstone offers some very good traction so it makes things a little easier.
Immediately after this steep section there is a nice rock to sit on with some great views of the valley that will allow you to rest up for the final assault on the biggest slab of sandstone I have seen in this area. After you eventually reach the top, and there is a top I promise, the trail drops down off of the slickrock and back on dirt. From here it is a short jaunt to the upper trail head.
This was a fun hike, although trying. I didn’t see any wild life other than a couple ravens that was interested in us. Definitely not one I would do during the summer months as the heat reflecting off the huge sandstone slabs could exceed well over 100 degrees.