Fat Mans MiseryDate:12/26/2011
Miles:Approx. 2 Miles Round Trip
Time: 2 Hours
Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 38° 43.908’N , 108° 9.773’W
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Fat Mans Misery is an area just outside of Delta Colorado. The area use to be a popular destination for picnics and general day outings. Due to the Division of Wildlife closing the road to it, today it is used primarily as just a hiking area and a place to let your four legged friends run. One of the major attractions to the area is a route you can take to get to the bottom of the small canyon the upper trail skirts. Fat Mans Misery gets its name from a section of trail that squeezes through a crack in the cliff that in some sections is barely 2 feet wide which requires many people to literally squeeze through.
To access the trail from Grand Junction Colorado you need to travel south on Highway 50 for about 33 miles until you see G50 Road on your right. The turn off is just prior to the small airfield on the north side of the highway. Once on G50 Road continue traveling for approximately 2 miles, at this point the road bears to the right, crosses the river and turns into just G Road. Continue on for about another mile until you come to the junction of G road and Sawmill Mesa Road. At this point you need to turn right and travel on Sawmill Mesa Road for about 3.1 miles. The trailhead is located on the right side of the road just next to a Division of Wildlife storage facility and shop.
The trail begins by passing through a gate and following an old two track road for a short distance. There are a couple trails that branch off with the first one being right at the back corner of the DOW fence. This first trail I believe will lead you to the train tracks. There is a train bridge that spans the Gunnison River that is referred to as Black Bridge. The bridge use to be a popular destination for the local thrill seekers who would jump off the bridge and into the river. I’m sure the railroad company frowns on this practice and most likely would slap a major fine on anyone that is caught doing it. So don’t do it.
Continue following the main trail until you come to the next branch. Taking this branch to the right will lead you to the actual slot in the cliff known as Fat Mans Misery. If you take this route just keep following it until you reach the rim of the small canyon. The trail to the bottom of the canyon is the slot located on the right. There use to be a small trail that follows the normally dry creek up the canyon for a ways passing through a small area called The Devils Kitchen. The trail eventually disappears a little ways up the canyon.
After checking out Fat Mans Misery for a bit I hiked back up to the main trail and followed it around as it skirted the rim of the canyon. The trail follows the canyon as it wraps around the small hill where it eventually meets up with the creek bed and basically dead ends. Looking at the maps it appears that at the head of the canyon is a small parking area and a trail leading into the canyon so you could probably pick your way through the creek bed and connect to that upper trail. I didn’t go that far so check it out at your own risk.
Once I turned around at the creek bed I decided to follow what looked like an old road that traveled in a southerly direction and away from the canyon. This old road climbed up a couple fairly steep hills with each one being steeper than the last. The final hill found me at the highest point in the area with some great views of the Uncompahgre Plateau as well as great views of Grand Mesa, Delta and the surrounding area. Although there is no trail, a person could probably head towards the canyon from this point and connect to the main trail and make a loop out of the hike.
There were a lot of signs of coyotes in the area and I did see one running along the flat area below me so be aware if you have small kids or pets with you. Another tidbit to be aware of is a few miles farther up the road is the Delta Correctional Facility which is a minimum security “Honor” Camp compound. There has been an occasional inmate that has decided in the past that they didn’t want to be there any longer and leaves the facility unannounced. The area is generally used by enough people to deter any escapees from heading in that direction but it is still good to know the place is in the area.
I’ve been to this area many, many years ago when I was young a couple times and it is interesting to go back to rekindle old memories. There is a lot of barren land around and the temperatures can get extremely warm during the summer months. There is an opportunity for viewing wildlife such as deer, mountain lion and of course coyotes.