Sunday, May 31, 2009

Morrison Trail-Transfer Campgound to Lost Canyon

The Morrison Trail runs for 8 miles from the Transfer Campground to the Bear Creek Trailhead that is along the Dolores River in the San Juan National Forest in southwest Colorado.

I started my hike at the Chicken Creek Trailhead, slightly north of Transfer Campground and hiked 4 miles out to the rim of Lost Canyon and 4 miles back. The Transfer Campground near Mancos, CO is a hub for the network of trails in this part of the forest.
The Morrison Trail at the Transfer Campground end is a continuation of the Chicken Creek Trail that runs about 8 miles south to Jackson Lake in Mancos State Park. I followed the trail north from the trail junction and traveled further up Chicken Creek.

After a short distance the Morrison Trail climbs out of the west side of the Chicken Creek canyon and then descends into the Turkey Creek drainage. The forest in this area is mostly Aspens and Engelmann Spruce.

The trail crosses several Forest Roads. At one of the roads there is a stream on each side of the road with small pedestrian bridges. Looking at the maps, this water appears to be channeled to some of the local reservoirs, maybe the Joe Moore Reservoir.

Climbing out of the Turkey Creek drainage the trail becomes available to motorized users except trucks and is mostly a two track narrow road for a couple of miles. In some places the trail crosses the Aspen Loop Trail, a long ATV route centered on the Transfer Campground area.

There aren’t any mountain views along this section and only a few meadows. There are some wildflowers along the way, Larkspurs, yellow lupines, a few dogtooth violets, white violets, asters, and Iris, but mostly dandelions.

I arrived at the edge of Lost Canyon after about 2:10 hours of hiking. There were some glimpses of the other side of this fairly wide canyon but the forest is very thick here. The good views on the Morrison Trail are at each end, but not in the middle. I turned around at the Lost Canyon rim and returned in about 2:00 hours for a total hike of 4:10 for 8 miles.

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