Take A Hike on Ribbon Trail in Bangs Canyon

Photography by  Cat Mayer

Photography by Cat Mayer

Ribbon Trail lives up to its name. It weaves and winds through canyons and tops out on vast sandstone expanses for incredible views of open grasslands, ponderosa and pinyon pines, sculpted sandstone, and the San Juans, Uncompahgre, Grand Mesa, Book Cliffs, and Colorado National Monument.

    Close to town on the west side of Little Park Road, this unique trail is part of the BLM Bangs Canyon Management Area. It offers a mix of sandy washes, rocky sections and slickrock, which accounts for over half of the hike. The Redlands Fault, which created the Colorado National Monument, is responsible for the Ribbon Trail’s gradual uplift as well.

    Ribbon Trail is an out-and-back hike with trailheads at either end. For one-way hiking, simply shuttle a car to the upper parking lot (with restroom), and begin at the lower trailhead. Hiking up gives a better workout and allows you to see oncoming mountain bikers, who enjoy the downhill challenge
of the trail.

    Follow trail signs and cairns (rocks stacked as trail markers) to stay on track and away from cliff edges. There are a couple of short scrambles and one more challenging feature called the “Toilet Bowl” near the top. Ribbon Trail offers plenty of fun and exploration for both adults and kids. Dogs are allowed

Quick Trail Facts

Round Trip Distance: 7 miles round trip 

Difficulty: Moderate-difficult

Elevation: 5193-6662

Approximate time: 31⁄2 hours

Cell phone service: Yes

Fee: None

Other uses: Popular downhill mountain bike ride 

Trailhead: Lower Ribbon Trail, Little Park Road

Getting to Ribbon Trail

Just over two miles up Little Park Road (at MP 10) is a gate and parking for the Tabaguache Trailhead. You can park there or drive another half-mile to a small pullout on the right side of the road next to the trailhead. Although there is no trailhead sign, the trail is obvious and drops immediately into a canyon. The large tunnel near the bottom of the first canyon is large enough to hike through. After the tunnel, follow the Ribbon Trail signs.

    To shuttle a car, the upper parking lot is four miles beyond the lower trailhead on the right side of Little Park Road.