One of the best ways to hike from the rim to the river at the Black Canyon of the Gunnison is the Curecanti Creek Trail at Pioneer Point. From the overlook by the parking lot, you can see the cove and river below.
At Pioneer Point, visitors will see a sign directly them left or right for the overlooks and right for the Curecanti Creek Trail. The overlook to the right shows you the canyon hikers take to a cove next to the river.
After a photo stop at the overlooks, it's time for the hike. A sign warns hikers that while it may only take an hour to hike down to the river, it may take two hours to hike back up. The sign calls the hike back up "strenuous."
The first mile of the trail and the second mile are very different. The first mile feels desert-like. You're hiking on a single-person wide, dirt trail in a place with trees, but not many of them are along the trail.
While there are easier and shorter ways to the water, if you want to hike rim to river, the Curecanti Creek Trail drops 900 feet in two miles AND it ends with a view of one of the canyon's features, the Curecanti Needle.
Just a little over a mile from the parking lot, hikers cross a bridge and the trail changes. Now the trail follows the Curecanti Creek. While this section can still be hot in places, being next to the water helps.
Even in late July, we found several little waterfalls to photograph.
n one rocky section, we suddenly felt a cold breeze, as if we were standing in front of the refrigerator with the door open. Park workers asked us later if we had found the "refrigerator rocks." We think we did.
The trail is steep and rocky in this section, but you're getting closer to the cove.
You'll cross another bridge about 1.65 miles down the canyon, then it's just a third of a mile to the end.
Scenery along the trail.
The trail ends in a cove a couple hundred feet from the main channel. You can see the Curecanti Needle rock formation in the main channel and you can go for a cool, refreshing swim here, if you choose.
One more look from the top. Read about the hike: http://ch7ne.ws/16RPPRJ