Monday, May 10, 2010

Big Water Spring Trail

Big Water Spring is located 22 miles north of Bradfield Bridge along Forest Road 504 in the San Juan National Forest in southwest Colorado. The Bradfield Bridge area is a popular boat launch area on the lower Dolores River below the McPhee Dam and Reservoir. The Bradfield Bridge can be accessed from Highway 491 near Pleasant View, Colorado.

Big Water Spring is at the end of the drivable Forest Road and is in an area of wide meadows surrounded by Ponderosa Pines and scattered patches of Aspens. The spring appears to now be in a well box and surrounded by a rail fence. There isn’t any other apparent development in this area. The Canyon of the Dolores River is about 1.5 miles directly west of Big Water Springs and makes a good hiking destination.

A short distance west of Big Water Spring is the Big Water Study Plot. The antique sign says that the plot was established in 1933 and that the plot was grazed in 1944 and 1945. Past the study plot there is a small constructed pond. A horse or cow trail leads west from the pond and can be followed through the forest. After about 0:45 minutes there are views into the wide Dolores River Canyon. Walking through the forest, there are a couple of old roads crossing the trail and perhaps signs of old logging campsites.

This section of the Dolores River Canyon is a little north of Dove Creek, Colorado. There is an old road at the canyon bottom that is good for hiking and biking. This is the part of the canyon that is visible from the publicized overlook that is near Dove Creek.

It is possible to walk north and south along the canyon rim here to get different views. I didn’t go further than the rim, but to the south is Mountain Sheep Point which probably has great canyon views. The north facing slopes here support Ponderosa Pines while the south facing slopes are covered with Pinon Pines and Utah Junipers. There are a couple of ranch houses visible on the western rim. My hike here took about 2:10 hours for about 4 miles on a 56 F degree windy early May day.