Monday, July 17, 2017

North Vista Trail to Exclamation Point (Black Canyon NP)

Route Name: North Vista Trail
Trailhead Elevation: 7,703 ft.
Distance: 3.06 mi.
Elevation Gain: 321 ft.
Start Time: 4:22pm
Exclamation Point: 5:20pm
End Time: 6:19pm

Trip Report:

For our first afternoon out in Colorado we were looking for a good hike at Black Canyon National Park.  We hadn't been here since 2005 and when we were here last we did some short hiking along the south rim.  Ahead of time I had done some research on the options and the North Vista trail looked intriguing.  I could also see Exclamation Point as a viable turnaround point.  It didn't show up on all maps but just looking at the route on Google Earth I could actually see the bits of trail segment out on the point and so it looked like a go.

As we drove west through Curecanti National Recreation Area we knew we were headed to Black Canyon but were still undecided as to whether the longer drive to the north rim was going to be worth it.  The north rim, like at the Grand Canyon in Arizona, is surprisingly remote here.  The drive was along a very windy mountain road for the first half and then on dirt roads the rest of the way.  It easily took us 90+ minutes to get to the north rim.  Once there we drove on to the ranger station where the well marked trailhead for the North Vista starts.  

For this hike we had our whole family group going which was exciting.  Its not often we all get to hike together.  What didn't help was the temperature.  It was pushing 90 degrees and it was sunny so we were really hot out there.  We all carried water and kept on drinking it.  The first half mile of the trail heads through a desert-like meadow with small bushes.  Then the trail heads into the trees.  There were no major hills just sporadic ups and downs.  The real climb on this trail comes after the Exclamation Point detour where the trail climbs up Green Mountain.  We didn't go that far.

Along the hike, just short of a mile in, there was an unsigned/unnamed overlook just off the trail.  It was just a brief hike down to a point where we got some beautiful views and a handful of pictures.  The turn off for Exclamation point was about 1.4 miles in.  It wasn't signed but it was an evident trail heading south from the North Vista trail.  I had been following our progress on the BackCountry Navigator app on my phone and so I knew it was coming.  I had seen on some maps that on Exclamation Point the trail forms a loop and this was indeed the case.  We took a bit of a break out on the Point and a number of pictures.  The one near mistake we made was we didn't really bring much food.  The boys were getting hungry at the turnaround and only my father had brought anything.  He was offering a CLIF bar and some Gu to the boys to help the empty tummies.

The hike back out went uneventfully, just hot.  It was a fairly simple trail and hit precisely what we were hoping for in a good reasonable length hike with plenty of good views and good trail.


I have a track and waypoints from the hike all contained in a KML file that you are welcome to download and use (at your own risk).  

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