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.

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