Sunday, May 23, 2010

Mud Springs Trail

The Mud Springs Trail is in a 1.5 square mile BLM area on the southwest side of Cortez in southwest Colorado. This area includes a side canyon of McElmo Canyon and the parking area is along County Road 21 just west of the Cortez Airport. There is a network of trails in the Mud Springs area, some for vehicles and some for hikers, horse riders, and mountain bikers. In 2010 the area is temporarily closed to vehicles as a new management plan is being developed. The parking area appears to be recently built but there aren’t any other facilities and there isn’t any information on the Travel Information sign.

I followed the hiking trail that branches right off the dirt road about 100 yards from the parking area, The trail passes through a sagebrush area and climbs slightly through scattered Junipers and Pinions toward a canyon rim. This side canyon of McElmo is probably the main feature of the Mud Springs area.

There are a few historic inscriptions on the south facing canyon wall from the 1920s. Further down canyon there is an odd cave. It looks like it was partially excavated and might have been used for storage. In the vicinity of the cave it is possible to climb to the canyon rim. On the rim I found a trail that mountain bikers and horse riders are using. This trail leads along the McElmo Canyon rim and has some good views over County Road G.

The horse and bike trail leads west and merges with the vehicle trails at the head of the side canyon. Some of the old vehicle trails have dead branches over them and there are signs saying the area is closed to open vehicle travel. I walked back down canyon to the trail that leads back to the parking area. My total hike in Mud Springs was about 3:00 hours. There are more trails to find here than I covered. I was the only visitor on a windy late May 70 F degree day.