Prime Cut/Joes RidgeDate: 10/21/13
Miles: 5.3 Round trip
Time: 2 hours
Elevation Gain: 720 feet
Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 39° 18.615’N , 108° 42.346’W
Click Here for a map of the North Fruita Desert area trail system
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The prime Cut and Joes Ridge trail is located in the North Fruita Desert at the end of 18 road and is actually a culmination of four different trails. The area is similar to the Tabaguache Trail system located south of Grand Junction due to the fact that you usually have to traverse numerous different trails in order to access any given trail.
To access the trail head from 1st and Grand Ave. in Grand Junction you need to travel west on hwy50 for approximately 8.5 miles until you come to 19 road which is on your right. Once on 19 road, travel north for about 7.3 miles until you see O road on your left. Turn here and travel for one mile and turn right onto 18 road. You have to take this round about approach because 18 road does not connect to highway 50. Once on 18 road continue north for about 6.3 miles until you see the first main parking area on your left. The trail head described here is located on the east side of the road.
The trail begins by dropping over the side of the hill and into the small gully where it comes to an intersection within short order. I was a little hesitate to do this trail because looking at the map it appeared to be very close to the road and I feared I would be dusted each time a car drove by. To my satisfaction the trail actually drops down into the little valley and surprising enough I barely heard any vehicles on the road and never even seen any dust.
After about 1.25 miles from the first intersection you will ascend a small hill and come to a little pond. You can make your hike short by turning left here and going back to the road, I veered to the right and went around the pond.
From this point on the trail gets a lot more interesting. For the next two miles the trail does a gradual climb up towards the base of the Bookcliffs where you will eventually come to the junction of the Front Side Trail. At this point you want to be sure to turn left and follow the Front Side trail for the next half mile until you reach the campgrounds.
Once in the campground area follow the road west for about 500 feet until you see the Front Side trail marker located on your right. Turn here and follow the trail as it drops down and crosses the small gully until you reach the junction with Joes Ridge. The trail makes a sharp turn here and climbs up out of the gully and begins its route back down towards the trail head.
Although you’re going down there are still a couple hills you have to climb up. Joes Ridge is named appropriately due to the fact that it follows along the ridgeline of the hill. There are a couple areas that are a little narrow with some fairly steep drop offs on both sides. None of these areas was I in the least bit worried about falling.
Once down from the ridgeline the trail levels out for the most part where it soon connects to V& 7/10’s road. Turn left here and follow the road for a short distance until you come to the Kessels Run trail on your right. Turn here and follow Kessels Run as it dips in and out of the dry wash and connects to the Zippity trail where you will turn left, climbs out of the small gully and be back at the trail head.
This is a nice area to hike in during the spring and fall season but during the summer months the temperatures can get extremely high and the gnats can be really bad. The lower section of the trail has a little to be desired along the lines of scenery but as you get closer to the Bookcliffs the scenery and trail gets more interesting. Be sure to keep an eye out behind you because it’s amazing how quick some of those mountain bikes can come upon you.