Trails on the monument's rims range from short, easy walks to moderate to strenuous hikes of several miles; hiking below the rim is difficult and not recommended for those with a fear of heights. Permits are not needed for rim trails, but free backcountry permits are required for treks below the rim.
South Rim Trails
Cedar Point Nature Trail -- With signs along the way describing the plants you'll see, this sunny trail not only offers a painless botany lesson, but at the end provides breathtaking views of the Gunnison River, 2,000 feet down, as well as the Painted Wall, at 2,250 feet, considered the tallest cliff in Colorado. .7 mile RT. Easy. Access: Cedar Point trail head, along South Rim Rd.
Oak Flat Loop Trail -- Dropping below the rim, this steep trail offers excellent views into the canyon while taking you through a grove of aspen, past Gambel oak, and finally through a forest of aspen, Gambel oak, and Douglas fir. Be aware that the trail is narrow in spots and a bit close to steep drop-offs. 2 miles RT. Strenuous. Access: Near visitor center.
Rim Rock Nature Trail -- Following the rim along a relatively flat path, this trail leads to an overlook providing good views of the Gunnison River and the canyon's sheer rock walls. A pamphlet available at the trail head describes plant life and other points of interest. 1 mile RT. Moderate. Access: Near entrance to South Rim Campground's Loop C.
Warner Point Nature Trail -- This trail offers a multitude of things to see, such as mountain mahogany, pinyon pine, Utah juniper, and other area flora; distant mountains and valleys; and the Black Canyon and its creator, the Gunnison River, 2,722 feet below. A trail guide is available at the trail head. 1.5 miles RT. Moderate. Access: High Point Overlook, at end of South Rim Rd.
North Rim Trails
Chasm View Nature Trail -- Starting in a pinyon-juniper forest, this trail heads to the rim for good views of the canyon and the river; you'll also have a good chance of seeing swallows, swifts, and raptors. .3 mile RT. Moderate. Access: End of North Rim Campground loop.
Deadhorse Trail -- Actually an old service road, this trail offers a chance of seeing a variety of birds, plus views of Deadhorse Gulch and the East Portal area at the southeast end of the park. 5 miles RT. Easy to moderate. Access: Kneeling Camel Overlook.
North Vista Trail -- Offering some of the best scenic views in the Black Canyon, this trail also provides hikers with a good chance of seeing red-tailed hawks, white-throated swifts, Clark's nutcrackers, and ravens. You might also be lucky enough to spot a peregrine falcon. The trail goes through a pinyon-juniper forest along the canyon's rim about 1.5 miles to Exclamation Point, which offers an excellent view into the canyon. Up to this point the trail is rated moderate, but it continues another 2 miles (rated strenuous) to Green Mountain, where you'll find broad, panoramic vistas. 7 miles RT. Moderate to strenuous. Access: North Rim Ranger Station.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.