The ConeDate: 4/18/2011
Miles: Approx. 6 miles round trip
Time: 3.25 hours
Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 39° 3’19.54″N, 108°44’12.94″W
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The Cone is located on Monument Mesa within the Colorado National Monument. If you’re towards the west end of Grand Junction you can see the peak jutting up just behind the Liberty Cap formation. I couldn’t find any information on the formation other than one map indicating it as the Cone. The formation itself is a remnant of the Jurassic period and consists of portions of the Morrison formation.
I see the peak jutting up on an otherwise flat looking mesa each day from the valley floor and have always wanted to climb to the top of it. From most vantage points it looks like it is the highest point of the mesa, but it’s really not.
To trail follows the Upper Liberty Cap trail for the majority of the way. To access the trail travel about 6 1/2 miles South from the visitors center and it is on the left side of the road right before reaching 16 5/10 road.
The first 2 ½ miles or so of the trail is very easy to follow as it winds its way up and down small hills and through sagebrush meadows and pinion/juniper forests. After about 2 ½ miles the trail will drop off of a small mesa and wind its way down to a lower level. Immediately after reaching the bottom of the hill you will come to a couple rock cairns. The first cairn is at the beginning of a very small wash, this is where you want to leave the main trail.
From this point on the trail becomes increasingly difficult to follow. There really isn’t a formal trail at all to the Cone. I started out by following the small wash for a short distance than turning onto an old game trail. I attempted to continue following the game trail as it passed through the trees and meandered its way through the trees. The game trail isn’t one that is used very much apparently because there weren’t many newer tracks and the trail itself had a bad habit of just disappearing.
Once you leave the main trail, the distance to the Cone is about ½ a mile one way. My route took me basically straight up the middle of the ridge. Once you reach the base of the formation there is one sandstone ledge that encircles the entire cone. I came out of the trees to an area of the ledge that had a natural stair step section so climbing over the ledge was pretty easy. The other areas I seen wasn’t too bad, the ledge itself is about two feet high or so.
As I began scaling the slope of the Cone in an effort to reach the peak I got about 20 feet from the top and the wind was gusting so hard it was actually difficult to stand up. Although the pictures don’t show it too well, the peak itself is very small and pointy. There is absolutely nothing to block the wind and the sides are pretty steep. Given my cautious nature, rather than risk literally getting blown off the top, I decided to turn around at this point.
I was a little disappointed that I wasn’t able to stand on the peak like I have thought about doing so many times but know that I know the basic route to reach it I’ll go back later in the fall when the wind isn’t blowing and make it happen. The return trip was just a matter of following my tracks back out to the main trail and back to the trailhead.
Overall the hike was enjoyable as usual; I could have done without the wind though. I think spring and the earlier parts of summer are always windy up on Monument Mesa. I’m anxious to head back up because even though I didn’t make it to the top, the views were very good where I turned around.