Just south of Fruita, Colorado, is the McInnis Canyons Conservation Area, which spans over 122,000 acres—it’s full of rugged canyons, hills, benches, and natural arches. Included in the McInnis Canyons NCA are 75,550 acres of wilderness that are designated as the Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness. The entire area is managed by the Bureau of Land Management and contains unparalleled trails. Many of these trails are popular with mountain bikers and backpackers, and several go over ten miles into the conservation area. I find that the beauty can best be enjoyed in a day of hiking through the numerous loops that wind in and out of the canyons. A few of my favorite hiking trails in McInnis Canyons NCA are the Pollock Bench Loop, Flume Canyon Loop, and Rattlesnake Arches Trails, which I’ve detailed below.
In spite of the recent drought experienced by the Grand Valley, there has been a perfect opportunity to enjoy some outdoor adventures in the cooler weather. Snow has been brief, lasting just a few hours before melting away and going nearly unnoticed. In its wake, a beautiful desert landscape flourishes in the dead of winter.
Directions to the Pollock Bench Trailhead
All three of the hiking trails in McInnis Canyons (Flume Canyon, Pollock Bench, and Rattlesnake Arches) described on this page begin at the Pollock Bench Trailhead. To access the trailhead from Grand Junction, travel west on I-70 to the Fruita exit. Take a left and travel about 1.5 miles to Kingsview Estate. Take a right and drive through the subdivision. Head left when the road turns to gravel. You will pass the Devils Canyon trailhead on your left. The Pollock Bench Trailhead is located at a parking area about 3.5 miles in on the left-hand side.
Flume Canyon Trail (5 Miles Roundtrip)
The Flume Canyon Trail begins at the Pollock Bench Trailhead. Within a mile, the trail splits between Pollock Canyon (which you’ll want to avoid) and Flume Canyon. The Flume Canyon trail (5 miles roundtrip), aka F1, is a looped trail. The trail follows along Flume Creek Canyon, goes in and out of washes, and explores part of the Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness Area. Midway through F1, there is a connection to the Pollock Bench Loop (avoid heading west if you just want to do the Flume Canyon Loop). Due to the many connections and overlaps, it’s recommended that you familiarize yourself with the trails via a map (McInnis Canyons Trail Map) or you just might find yourself exploring more than anticipated!
Pollock Bench Trail (7.4 Miles Roundtrip)
The Pollock Bench Trail (aka P1) begins at the Pollock Bench Trailhead. Follow the P1 from the trailhead. It’s a moderate hike at 7.4 miles roundtrip. The Pollock Bench and Rattlesnake Arches Trails share the same initial route for about the first 2 miles. The elevation gain during the first part of Pollock Bench Trail is somewhat dramatic and difficult in areas.
Rattlesnake Arches Trail (14.1 Miles Roundtrip)
The Rattlesnake Arches Trail (aka R1) shares the same beginning as the Pollock Bench Trail. It’s one of my favorite hiking trails in McInnis Canyons NCA. It splits off to the right almost two miles into the trail. The Rattlesnake Arches are the most prominent and concentrated arches in Colorado. This route is recommended for backpackers, as it is over 14 miles roundtrip, and it makes for an incredible weekend trip. There is another trailhead for the Rattlesnake Arches further west–it’s a shorter hike to the arches though requires 4WD.