Crag Crest

Mesa, Colorado 81643

Crag Crest

Crag Crest Professional Guide

Detailed Trail Description from our Guidebook

"The Grand Mesa is the largest flattop mountain in the Northern Hemisphere, rising abruptly above valleys on the north, south, and west. Valley floors here lie between 4,500 and 5,500 feet in elevation. The top of the mesa varies from 10,000 to 11,000 feet above sea level, with the Crag Crest at its peak. Crag Crest Trail is a designated National Recreation Trail and is considered the signature hike on the Grand Mesa."

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Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

100 Classic Hikes in Colorado (The Mountaineers Books)
Scott S. Warren
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"One of the largest flat-topped mountains in the world, Grand Mesa offers a great opportunity both to learn about the complex geology of Colorado and to enjoy some truly unique scenery. The premier hiking trail on Grand Mesa is The Crag Crest National Recreation Trail, which loops for 10 miles over one of the high points along the mesa top. From this memorable route, hikers can enjoy sweeping panoramas of surrounding mountain ranges and relish the quiet solitude of pristine forestlands as well."
Best Hikes with Dogs: Colorado (The Mountaineers Books)
Ania Savage
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"The Grand Mesa Visitor Center is on top of the Grand Mesa just east of the Colorado Highway 65 on Trickle Park Road, across from Cobbett Lake. It is open between 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM daily during the summer. The Crag Crest Trail was designated a National Recreation Trail in 1978. It is a loop consisting of a crest portion and a lower segment and can be accessed from two trailheads, one on the west end across from Island Lake and one on the east end adjacent to Eggleston Lake. A car shuttle is an option if you want to forgo the loop."
Colorado's Incredible Backcountry Trails (Rincon Publishing)
David Day
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"Crag Crest is a particularly scenic section of the long east-west ridge that separates western Colorado’s Grand Mesa into its Gunnison and Colorado River watersheds. Some sources claim that the 50-square-mile mesa is the largest flat-topped mountain in the world. It rises abruptly from the desert environment east of Grand Junction into a lush conifer forest averaging over 10,000 feet above sea level. Dozens of deep blue lakes lie just below the crest of the mesa, making this an especially pretty hike. About 10 million years ago a series of volcanic eruptions covered the top of the Grand Mesa with a thick layer of basaltic rock, and from all appearances Crag Crest must have been a major volcanic vent during the eruptions. Today the rocky ridge rises 500 feet above the surrounding plateau. Over the course of time the great weight of the volcanic deposits pressing down on the mesa caused the land to tilt slightly inward, forming long, narrow depressions along the top of the mesa. These depressions eventually became the jewel-like lakes that are now scattered below the ridge."

Crag Crest Trip Reports

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Excellent trail. Started at the west trailhead. Eleven miles total and approximately 1200' elevation change. Views of the several lakes and distant mountains (San Juans) were awesome. Came upon meadow after meadow of wild flowers. Beautiful day, no mosquitoes and excellent hike. Also somewhat strenuous concidering the elavation ranged from 10,500' to 11,200'.
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It was a beautiful drive up on the Mesa, but things went south for hiking when I had to park in snow at the trail head. There was snow at the beginning of the trail, but I bypassed that until I got into the trees and was sinking up to my butt and gave up. It looks like it would be great in about a month. I did see a couple of coyotes and a bear while up on the Mesa, though.
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Crag Crest Photos

Trail Information

Nearby City
Trail Type
Skill Level
5 hours
Late spring to early fall
USDA Forest Service Office, 2777 Crossroads Blvd., Grand Junction, CO 81506; (970) 242-8211.
Local Contacts
USGS Skyway and Grand Mesa; USDA Forest Service Grand Mesa National Forest
Local Maps

Trail Log