Thursday, May 29, 2008

Rim Trail and Chicken Creek Trail Loop-Transfer Campground

The Transfer Campground in the San Juan Forest near Mancos in southwest Colorado is a hub for several trails exploring the area below the LaPlata Mountains. Segments of the Rim Trail and Chicken Creek Trails can be hiked as a five mile loop.

I started at the point where the Rim Trail crosses Forest Road 561, about one mile south of the Transfer Campground and followed the trail south, or clockwise around the loop. The trail cuts through groves of oak trees and meadows and then descends down into the canyon toward Chicken Creek.

The trail down appears to be part of an old ATV trail but now closed to motorized traffic. The forest begins to change to Aspen and Douglas Fir as the trail descends. Near the bottom of the canyon there was a point where I got confused. The old ATV trail continues south down to Chicken Creek while the Rim Trail moves north parallel to the creek.

I joined the Chicken Creek Trail somewhat to the south of the official junction after a short search. The route I took might would also be good if you wanted to hike south on Chicken Creek to the trail head at Jackson Lake.
The Chicken Creek Trail continues north mostly on the west side of the creek with a couple of creek crossings. The forest on the west side of the canyon has more Ponderosa Pines instead of the Douglas Fir and Spruce that dominate on the east side.

It appears there has been some work to stabilize some sections of the trail that may have been plagued with mud.

The Chicken Creek Trail merges with the Morrison Trail that has a trail head at Bear Creek along Highway 145 north of Dolores, only eight miles by trail but about 40 miles by road.
Climbing out of the canyon there is a great view of Mt. Hesperus and the LaPlatas looming above the campground area. There are more good views from the Rim Trail on the segment running south from the campground. It took me 3:00 hours to cover this five mile route.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Rim Trail and Transfer Trail Loop-Transfer Campground

The Rim Trail and the Transfer Trail are part of the Transfer Campground Trail System in the San Juan National Forest near Mancos in southwest Colorado.

I started along the Rim Trail where is crosses Forest Road 561, about a mile south of the Transfer Campground and followed the loop clockwise. After about 200 yards there is a trail junction with the Box Canyon Trail. The Box Canyon Trail is part of the loop I followed but I walked this part at the end of the hike.

The Rim Trail continues along the rim of the canyon overlooking the West Mancos River, snowmelt fed from the LaPlata Mountains. There were excellent views of Mt. Hesperus and the other snowy peaks of this range of Colorado mountains.

It is about 1 mile to the Transfer Campground. The route continues down the West Mancos Trail into the canyon to a trail junction with the Transfer Trail. The West Mancos Trail continues upstream and the Transfer Trail goes down stream.

The Transfer Trail was a fairly rough route along the West Mancos River. In May, there was water flow across the trail in places making for some steep slippery spots and a number of very large trees had crashed during the winter. Some short detours were needed and some scrambling over thick trunks was called for. These spots will probably be cleared later in the season.

The forest was very thick at the canyon bottom, mostly spruce and Douglas Firs and there were still patches of snow along the banks.

The Box Canyon Trail junction is just past a flow control structure that seems to appear just when you think you're in the deepest wilderness. This segment climbs back to the rim. It took me about 2:30 hours to walk this loop of about 3 miles.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Boggy Draw Trail

The Boggy Draw Trail is the central loop of the Boggy Draw Trail System near Dolores in southwest Colorado.

There are three other trails that connect to the Boggy Draw Trail plus a major ATV trail. The trailhead is 3 miles west of Dolores, CO and there are signs pointing it out.

Starting at the main trail head at the beginning of Forest Road 527, at the end of County Road W, and moving clockwise, the trail crosses the ATV trail that follows a major power line and it has two connections with the Bean Canyon Trail in the first 0:30 minutes of hiking. The second Bean Canyon connection is near a large meadow.

The trail is mostly deep Ponderosa Pine Forest with several constructed ponds and meadow areas. After about 1:40 hours of hiking, the trail crosses the main forest road 527.

The segment to the east of Forest Road 527 continues as a deep forest trail with a few meadows. Some of the meadows have groves of very young trees. After another 0:45 minutes the junction with the Maverick's Trail arrives. The trail junctions with the Italian Canyon Trail are off of the Maverick's Trail.

There are no ponds along this segment until near the main trailhead there is a large rock outcrop with a scenic pond. The total walking time for me on the Boggy Draw Trail was about 3:45 hours for about 8.5 miles.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Bean Canyon Trail at Boggy Draw

The Bean Canyon Trail is a major loop of about 16 miles off of the Boggy Draw Trail system in the San Juan National Forest about 3 miles west of Dolores in southwest Colorado.
  Starting at the main trail head of the Boggy Draw Trail it is about 10 minutes to the first junction, a left turn, with the Bean Canyon Trail. This segment crosses the ATV trail under the power lines twice and the terrain is park like open Ponderosa Pine forest.

In another 20 minutes there is a crossing of paved forest road 526. In addition to this crossing there are four other places to access the trail besides the main trail head.

From the road 526 crossing the route descends south into Bean Canyon and follows the floor. There was a little bit of water flow at the bottom and the canyon was deep, with sandstone rims high above.

This looked like a difficult section for biking. As the trail descended there was a transition from the Ponderosa Pine forest to Pinon Pine and Juniper on the canyon walls, but with some Aspens appearing at the bottom.

After 1 hour on this segment I came within view of the House Creek paved road 528. There is a rough forest road intersecting the trail near the paved road. This access point is 3.5 miles west from the junction of Forest Roads 528 and 526.

From the point where House Creek Road 528 is visible at the bottom of Bean Canyon, the trail crosses the creek and then rose moving north toward the junction of paved Forest Road 526 and 528. The forest changes back from Pinon Juniper to Ponderosa pine as you climb.

There are more views along this segment than the others, some views back toward McPhee Reservoir and some to the mountains to the north. There is a glimpse of Lone Cone Mountain.

There is one scenic pond along this segment. After 1:10 on this segment the trail comes very close to Road 526 at point 0.9 miles south from the 526 and 528 junction, but there is no sign along the road indicating this.

After crossing the paved 526 this segment descends back into upper Bean Canyon and crosses rough Forest Road 257 near the hairpin turn. This is another access point for hikers.

From this point at the Road 257 access, the hairpin turn, and it was 40 minutes to the second junction with the Boggy Trail and I could see Road 527. This segment followed a side canyon bottom away from Bean Canyon and there was a little water flowing.

The trail follows an old fence line as it climbs toward the trail junction. The canyon bottom had aspens along with the tall Ponderosa Pines. Near the trail junction there is a large meadow area.

From the meadow trail junction area back to the main trailhead is another 30 minutes. This segment returns along the Boggy Draw Trail. It took me about 7 hours of walking to cover the 16 miles, but I did it in several


Thursday, May 8, 2008

Mavericks Trail at Boggy Draw

The Mavericks Trail is part of the Boggy Draw Trail System in the San Juan National Forest about 3 miles west of Dolores in southwest Colorado.

The Boggy Trail, Bean Canyon Trail, Mavericks Trail, and an ATV trail all begin from the same trailhead at the point where County Road W becomes Forest Road 527. There is also an outer loop trail called the Italian Canyon Trail that is an option off the Mavericks Trail.

I started this hike by walking north along the east side of the Boggy Draw loop until arriving at the clearly marked Mavericks trail connection, and then followed the loop clockwise. Going this way I missed seeing the north connection of the Italian Canyon Trail, which is unsigned and inconspicuous. The south connection is clearly marked.

The forest in this area is dominated by open park like Ponderosa Pine with an under story of Gambel Oak. The trails are mostly smooth and soft and mostly in the shade of the tall pines.

The hiking and biking experience here is deep forest without many views of the nearby mountains. It's the kind of place where you throw your head back and gaze up at the tall green pines against the blue sky, listen to the breeze and sniff the fresh pine scent.

There are some constructed ponds to support the grazing activities. The ponds increase the variety of birds that might be seen.
There are also some meadow areas, sometimes with some wildflowers. The Mavericks Loop is about a five mile walk and it took me 2:30 hours. The Mavericks Trail loop ends unmarked back at the main Boggy Draw Trail Head on the east side of the Forest Road 527. There were a few mountain bikers along the trail during my hike.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

River Trail in Dolores

The River Trail at Dolores, CO is about a one mile gravel trail that runs mostly along the river bank in the Town of Dolores, giving a close up view of the mountain stream just as it enters the McPhee Reservoir in southwest Colorado.

I started at the south end of the trail where the Dolores River passes under the Highway 145 bridge and the water is starting to back up from the reservoir.
The trail at the south end runs on top of the berm that provides flood protection. At this end or the trail you are in the Joe Rowell town park with softball and soccer fields, playgrounds and picnic areas just off the trail.
As the trail moves north there are fishing spots along the way with views of the ponderosa pines on the opposite side of the valley. The trail continues with a short section cutting through the neighborhood and ending near the library.

You can return along the same route or follow the main street back, visiting some of the small shops along the way. One highlights in town is the Galloping Goose, the old rail car that provided transportation in the area until the 1950s.

There is some interpretive information near the railroad museum also mentioning the Dominguez-Escalante Expedition, the first European explorers in the area. It took me about an hour to walk the full length and back, with a stop by the Goose.

Dolores River Story Walk  In June 2011, the pioneering idea of hiking exercise and family reading was put in place along a segment of the River Trail at Joe Rowell Park.  A series 13 small artistic signs were installed telling of how a young girl knows that the river lovers her. The Story Walk was developed by the San Juan Mountains Association.

I am here to visit one of my best friends in the world-the river. I know she loves me.

I know the river loves me because I can hear her calling me as soon as I am close.

She jumps and sings when she sees me.

I run to her side and she cools me down.

I know the river loves me because when I look into her face, she’s happy to see me.

When I jump on her back, she holds me up. When I leap into her arms she takes me in.

She tugs on my hair and arms and we flow together.

I watch her change like me. In the winter she is low and quiet. In the summer she is full and loud.

The river takes care of me, and I take care of the river. I only leave behind what already belongs to her.

I know the river loves me. The next time I come she will be here waiting for me, singing my name.

I know the river loves me, and I love the river.