Gold Star Canyon to Liberty Cap - a CO Natl Monument 'Grand Traverse' hike

  • November 10, 2012 · 9:00 AM

Gold Star Canyon to Liberty Cap

A CO Natl Monument 'Grand Traverse' hike

We have done parts of this hike from each direction and about a year ago put all the elements together; now, it is time to do it again.

The 'hike' will involve setting up a car shuttle so we have some end of the day cars at Liberty Cap (Wildwood) trailhead. We'll hike 8 miles and they will be exciting miles for many; and pretty long miles for all. This is a hike for thise seeking some 'adventure' and willing to keep on plugging since by the time we hit about mile 5 those last few, though mostly downhill can feel long. (I am not trying to scare anyone, I am just saying that the whole group has to be able to go the length because once we get out of Gold Star Canyon there will be no turning back).

Depending on who shows up we may split the group at the start so some go up the 'black canyon scrambling' route and other hike up the usual trail (your choice, both are good). Once in Gold Star Canyon we'll go up what are officially called 'Otto's Staircase' but we refer to as 'the Moki Steps'. From there we will top out on the mesa which forms much of the red rock skyline to the south of GJ.

Gentle up and down, walking across long slick rock slabs, a visit to the iconic 'Otto's Bathtub; we will eventually reach the Liberty Cap trail about 300 vertical feet above the cap and drop down that trail to the cars.

This hike is a local 'classic' that does not get visited in its entirity very often; and I do not expect to do this version of it again for perhaps another year. If that says anything about how awesome I think this hike is, I am not a big one to repeat an adventure here where we have so many to pursue.


Meet at Liberty Cap/ Wildwood trailhead at 8 AM. We will leave as many cars as possible there; loading everyone up and driving to the White Rocks/ Gold Star Canyon trailhead to start as soon as we can get over there.


The forecast as of Monday Nov. 5 looks like it'll be mostly cloudy with temps in the high 40's. That can be ideal hiking weather as long as it is not raining. Should we have rain, plan to meet at 8AM and we will decide on perhaps a less committing but still fun day's event.


  • Dress in layers that you can easily add or shed as temps throughout the day will fluctuate.
  • Wind/ rain shell jacket
  • Warm hat(s) and light gloves
  • Trekking poles (if you like them; I will be bringing mine)
  • Water (and a thermos of hot soup or beverage)
  • High energy snacks AND a hearty lunch
  • Closed cell foam pad (~2'x2' that you can sit on at the lunch stop; and insulator between you and the ground which is getting cold this time of year)
  • Camera, binoculars, GPS (any gadgets that you like)
  • Headlamp (just in case we are having so much fun that we get back later than expected. A headlamp is a good thing to always have in your pack this time of year; along with a warm hat and light gloves.)
  • Webbing or rope (need a total of 100' so 3 or 4 pieces of 30' each. We will use this as a hand line for anyone who wants a little more security at the Moki Steps. If you do not know what I mean by webbing or rope, that is OK. We will have enough folks who do bring this, that we will be covered.)


I wish, but since this is a hike in the national monument, they say NO to FIDO.


If you do not want to do the whole day hike you are welcome to walk the first ~2 mile (4 miles round trip) with us into Gold Star Canyon. Gold Star is about my FAVORITE canyon of any that we can see from GJ and it is among the least visited. You would park at White Rocks if you opt for this then just hike back down when the others ascend the Moki Steps.


Doug Van Etten  [masked]

Mary Hertert       [masked]

More photos will be added by mid-week.

Join or login to comment.

  • A former member
    A former member

    Kinda up in the air, I'm picking up Deb 12/27 in vegas, so probably after that or a week or so before.

    November 10, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    Save so more great trips for Dec/Jan. see you then.

    November 5, 2012

    • Doug Van E.

      We did the shorter version so will plan this again for Dec or Jan. When do you plan to be here, Ray?

      November 10, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    lucky people! you snuck in before the bad weather... we woke up to 4" of snow today, which turned into 6" with blowing snow by the end of day. wish we could have been there...

    maybe we could try for the longer hike in the future?

    November 10, 2012

    • Doug Van E.

      Yes Amber we will probably schedule the longer one in Dec or Jan. Enjoy your snow.

      November 10, 2012

  • Laney H.


    November 10, 2012

  • Mary h.

    Spectacular hike that we got through before the weather set in. Some flurries up high although the sun was warm. Did get nippy once the wind set in to stay>

    November 10, 2012

  • Doug Van E.

    We did the hike that was actually described for yesterday since weather looked like we might want to shorten the day. Weather held for a wonderful day. Black canyon approach, Moki steps, walk around the rim and following the intermittent cairns down was all a great time.

    November 10, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    this looks super fun! and ron and i were planning to go until we heard that it's supposed to snow up here on the plateau. anyway, i'm not usually weather-phobic, but the driving in it is what stops me cold! anyway, if it doesn't happen this time, ron and i would love to join this trip at another time.

    November 8, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    Doug and Mary! I'd love to join you in this hike. If anybody can carpool from SLC I'd try to attend!! If is the case, any plan for sunday? Canyonland easy canyoneering? :)

    November 5, 2012

    • Doug Van E.

      Felipe, we can sure find other great fun for you to do near here if you come over. You are welcome to stay at our house Friday and Saturday nights.

      November 5, 2012

    • A former member
      A former member

      Thanks! However, get grant junction will be tough! Hopefully I can carpool with somebody! By the way, for thanks giving a friend of mine is join us and we´ll get a RV!

      November 5, 2012

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