Thursday, July 29, 2010

Trimble Point on McPhee Reservoir

Trimble Point is a triangular mesa top area overlooking the McPhee Dolores River Dam in southwest Colorado. It sits to the north of the Beaver Creek Arm of the McPhee Reservoir. The access for hiking is Forest Road 523, which makes a junction with Forest Road 514 about 1.5 miles east of the Salter Y. 

This area can be reached from both Dolores, CO and from the Bradfield Bridge near Pleasant View, CO. I started my hike 3.6 miles south of the junction next to the small Campbell Reservoir to make the hike about 8 miles. The one lane Road 523 is drivable for about another 2 miles past where I started.

The 2 miles to the end of Road 523 is a very pleasant forest walk, dominated by tall Ponderosa Pines, Gambel Oaks, with Aspens in some spots. At the end of the road I continued south through the forest, slowly for 20 minutes, looking for the canyon rim overlooking the Beaver Creek arm of the reservoir.

To continue west toward Trimble Point I had to backtrack north to get around a side canyon. Moving west, there is another forest road that doesn’t appear on the maps I have. This road is parallel to Road 523 to the south and makes a junction with 523 about 1.2 miles south of where I started hiking. I walked past it on the outbound hike but used it on the return.

There are well developed, fairly easy to follow cow or horse trails that head west across Trimble Point all the way to the end view point. The habitat along here gets a little drier and there are some open grassy areas. I saw several groups of cows grazing in this area and my hiking caused some minor stampedes.

At the trail end point, the best views are toward the junction of the Beaver Creek arm and the main channel. The views toward the McPhee Dam are mostly obscured by the forest. There are also views north toward the Dry Canyon fishing access road that switchbacks down the slope.

Out at the point, the Ponderosa Pines are replaced by the Pinon Pines and Junipers. On the return hike, I followed the cow trail to the small Trimble Reservoir. From the reservoir I navigated north and east until I came to the unmapped side road, and followed it north to the junction with Road 523. It took me 2:30 hours to arrive at the view point and my return hike, using the unmapped side road took 1:40 hours. My total hike was 4:30 hours and I carried and drank 3 liters of water on a 70 F degree late July day.