Liberty Cap Upper Trail Head Date: 6/6/2010 Difficulty: Hard Miles: Approx. 10 Miles Round Trip Rating: Type: In-out/Shuttle Upper Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 39° 3’19.60″N, 108°44’13.14″W Lower Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 39° 4’5.10″N, 108°39’36.35″W
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You can access Liberty Cap via two different trail heads. The first and probably hardest is from the Wildwood trail head. It is a two mile climb practically straight up, the other trail head is the Rimrock trail head. The Wildwood trail head is just off of South Broadway on the left just past Riggs Hill and practically across the road from Escondido Circle. It is an easy road to miss because it looks like someones driveway. This page discusses the Rimrock trail.
The Rimrock trail head is located about 6 1/2 miles South from the visitors center and is on the left side of the road right before reaching 16 5/10 road.
The majority of the trail follows the remains of an old road that the park service closed back in the early 1970′s. I wonder what purpose the road could have served. I did run across an area that looks like it might have been an older road that branched off and headed towards Monument Canyon. Although following the possible road it ended up disappearing rather quickly. It looks like they might have done some digging in the area for fossils because it stops at a section of exposed Morrison Formation.
The trail is easily followed as it winds its way through the junipers and up and down small hills. The trail does a steady downhill trek all the way to Liberty Cap itself. The trip there is nice, it’s coming back that plays you out because it is slightly up hill the whole way.
Once you reach about the halfway point you will run across a small trail that branches off to the left. This is the trail that will take you to Ottos Bath Tub. A lot of people turn around here. As you continue down there are plenty of views of adjoining canyons and some views of the Grand Valley. There were wildflowers every where both times I hiked the trail. Be sure to keep an eye out for snakes, we ran across a Gopher Snake or Bull Snake, I’m not sure what it was but it wasn’t a Rattler. It still gave us a good start.
Towards the end of the trail you will come across a very old and damaged trail register box and an old sign that says “Liberty Cap 0.3 Miles”. From here the trail all but dis-appears. You can walk out to the cliff edge and look over the entire Grand Valley and be almost eye level with flying planes. You can follow the cliff edge around a little ways and look down onto Liberty Cap from above.
If you feel brave you can drop down over the side of the cliff and go the last few hundred yards to Liberty Cap itself. The trail drops down about 100 feet via a series of steep switch backs then follows the cliff face around to a sign talking about Liberty Cap. This last section of the trail can be intimidating, there are a few narrow spots and as I said it is very steep and the height can be a little dizzying.
To get back to the trail head you can either continue down the Liberty Cap trail to the Wildwood trail head and get a ride via Rimrock drive or turn around and go back the way you came. If you go to the Wildwood trail head you will be hiking about 7 miles, so you save about three miles.
Overall, I would consider the trail easy except for the last section and the distance you have to walk. With taking plenty of water, some snacks and various supplies, we were pretty played out by the time we made it back to the trail head.