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

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. When it was posted a few weeks ago stormy weather caused us to do an abbreviated version so today will hopefully the the whole taco.

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 the hike as soon as we can get over there.


The forecast will tell us if we are going to do the whole hike or a shorter variation. If we have scattered 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]

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  • Ralph

    A good hike on an interesting route.

    December 6, 2012

  • Ridgway R.

    very good: great day great route

    December 5, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    Fantastic hiking group and beautiful trail with amazing views! Many thanks Doug for organizing, leading, and warm hospitality for a great weekend at GJCO! See you on the next trail!!

    December 3, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    This was a tough hike not for the timid at heart or week in the knees. It was great fun because we did not fallow a trail very much and the scrambling over rocks and finding paths where there didn't seem to be a trail. Hikes like this is a great reason we are called WSA.

    Hi, I'm Bernard visiting from France and was with Jim. For me that was a great and unexpected opportunity to be with you guys on this hike. that was just a fantastic and unforgetable experience, thank you very much.

    December 3, 2012

  • Ernesto

    My best hike in GJ ever! Thank you for your hospitality, the great company, and the all the fun. A special thank you to Doug for making it all possibly. I'll be seeing you all more often from now on!

    December 3, 2012

  • Andrew K.

    Great day! Beautiful weather, a lot of fun people, awesome hike. Participants from Spain, Ft Collins, Ridgway and more. Very fun Sunday

    1 · December 2, 2012

  • Mary h.

    glorious all the way around and what a FUN! crew of folks to hike with. Willing to explore, easy to laugh and everyone had a great time. Good length and everyone seemed evenly matched so the hike was both exhilarating and relaxing at the same time.

    1 · December 2, 2012

  • Mike

    A challenging hike with some great people.

    December 2, 2012

  • Doug Van E.

    Hey was that just about the BEST WSA hike since . . . yesterday at Blue Lakes? Up the mouth of our own little Black Canyon (of Gold Star) then on to the Moki Steps/ Otto's Staircase. We passed Otto's Bathtub and wondered about 1 set of foot prints down in there? Looks like we will do an outing in the future that may involve some rappelling in the upper reaches of Monument Canyon. Passing Liberty Cap . . . no way! Many of us ascended LC using the new rebar 'pegs' someone inserted in the recent few months. Then, down down down the LC trail to the cars and end of the hike farewells to Ernesto and Ben from Ft. Collins; Jenny and Sharie who we met on the Blue Lakes trail yesterday and drove up this A.M. from Ridgeway for their 1st WSA event. Thanks to Jim for bringing his friend , Bernard from France. And by the way this was the WSA's most international trip since Thanksgiving. We had Ernesto from Cuba, Ben from China, Jenny from Spain, Benard from France and Sherry from North Carolina.

    1 · December 2, 2012

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