Miles: 3.6 round trip
Rating: 3.5 star
Type: In-Out or shuttle
Time: 1hr 45min
Trail head GPS Coordinates: 39° 1’54.43″N, 108°37’50.24″W
Serpents Trail is located on the eastern end of the Colorado National Monument and probably one of the most used trails in the Monument. Given the close proximity to town and the relative smoothness many people use this trail for training and exercise, you’ll always see someone jogging up or down it. You will need to purchase a parks pass if you plan on going. You can pick up a day pass for $15 at the gate that is good for 7 consecutive days or if you plan on visiting the monument a few times it would be cheaper to purchase an annual pass for $40.
Serpents trail was originally the only automobile access into the Colorado National Monument until 1937 when the west entrance road through Fruita Canyon was opened. The original road followed the current foot trail and connected with Rimrock Drive just above the east tunnel where it followed the present road up to Glade Park. the road was built between 1912 and 1921 and was designed by the first park custodian John Otto. The road continued to be used until around the 1950’s and was dubbed “The most cookedest road in the world”.
Once you enter the monument you can park in the parking area on your left directly across the road from the trail. On the weekends or busy days this small parking lot fills up so additional parking is at the Devils Kitchen Picnic area a few hundred yards west of the road. The picnic area is a good place to park because it makes it easy to have your “after hike picnic”.
The trail basically shares the same trailheads as Echo Canyon, Devils Kitchen, Old Gordon Trail and No Thoroughfare Canyon. With the exception of No Thoroughfare Canyon and The Old Gordon Trail, you could easily hike Echo Canyon, Devils Kitchen and Serpents trail practically in the same morning.
The trail begins by crossing Rimrock Drive and immediately begins climbing. Climbing is the key word here. The trail performs a steady incline the entire distance, although its up it really isn’t too bad there is around an 800 foot elevation gain. To accommodate vehicles, there is a massive amount of switchbacks, over 50 to be exact. These switch backs makes it interesting because often times the trail follows below the other portions of the trail and you can see the massive amounts of work and engineering that went into the construction of the road. Nearly the entire distance you can spot areas where they drilled the rock for blasting and construction.
The trail climbs and twists for about 1.8 miles giving you some great views of the Grand Valley, the mesa and portions of the Colorado National Monument and eventually ends at Rimrock Drive just above the east tunnel. From this point you can take a break and take in the views of the valley before you head back down the way you came.
This is a nice trail with some great scenery and makes for a great trail to do regularly for good exercise and is one that everyone should do at least once.
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