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The Black Ridge Trail is located on the western end of the Colorado National Monument and is the highest trail located within the park boundarys. The trail was used back in the late 1800′s and early 1900′s by the ranchers on Glade Park and Pinyon Mesa as a stock drive. The trail actually connected to the Fruita Dugway trail and allowed access up and down the Monument.
The trail has two trail heads, the first and the one I started at is located directly across the road from the Colorado National Monument visitors center and shares the same starting point as the Alcove Nature Trail. The other trail head is located across Rimrock Drive from the upper Liberty Cap trail. Since the trail is 5.5 miles one way I didn’t feel like hiking to the upper trail head and back so I dropped my bike off at the Upper Liberty Cap trail and rode it back down Rimrock Drive and back to the visitors center. The bike ride added an extra sense of excitement to the hike.
The trail begins by climbing up a well graveled trail and leveling out as it follows along above the Alcove Nature Trail. After a short distance the trail begins another steep ascent to the next ridge. The trail continues to zig zag its way up to the top of the ridge where it ends up following some power lines through the junipers and into a meadow type area.
Shortly after you reach the top area you will come to the first more interesting feature. The trail crosses a narrow section that separates the larger Devils Canyon to the right and a smaller canyon to the left. This section is about 8-10 feet wide so it’s not too narrow.
The trail continues to gradually climb as it makes its way towards all the radio towers located at the top of the mountain. A little over halfway you will come to the junction of the CCC trail. You can either turn here and hike the .75 miles or so to the trail head of Monument Canyon or continue on.
After this junction the trail begins to climb a little steeper once again and then as earlier levels out. The trail follows along below the towers and eventually begins a mild downward descent until it exits on the side of Rimrock Drive.
Overall the trail is pretty. Early spring is a nice time to take this hike because the flowers were beginning to bloom and everything was really green, plus the temperature was perfect for a nice hike. There were ample opportunities for some nice views and the idea of following a hundred year old stock trail was kind of interesting. I gave it the moderate to strenuous rating mainly because of the combination of distance and the few fairly steep sections along the route.