Sunday, August 22, 2010

Colorado Trail at Junction Creek

The Durango Trail Head of the 483 mile Colorado Trail is in the Junction Creek area, reached by a west turn at 25th Street off of Highway 550. There are two trailhead choices, the first where the pavement ends and Forest Road 171 begins.

 One mile further at the Junction Creek Campground area, there is a second parking area and another access point. From the campground trailhead it is 3.2 miles to the excellent lookout point called Gudy’s Rest. The starting elevation is about 7200 feet and it is about 8000 feet at Gudy’s Rest.

The first 1.6 miles from the campground trailhead follows high on the shoulder above Junction Creek through deep forest thick with Ponderosa Pines, Fir and Spruce, with some Narrowleaf Cottonwoods closer to the creek. In the morning it is shady and cool along this stretch. There are some views across the canyon to some cliff outcrops.

At 1.6 miles there is a small bridge across Junction Creek and the route gets somewhat steeper. The Colorado Trail appears to have been designed with mountain bikes in mind so the grades are moderate compared to other mountain hikes and the surface is mostly smooth and easy to walk on.

On a 70 F degree late August Saturday morning I saw 20 bikers, 12 hikers, and 1 horse rider during my 2:40 hours 6.4 mile hike. This segment is 28 of the 28 total for the whole Colorado Trail. A sign at the trail head shows a map of the 74 miles between Junction Creek and the Molas Lake area.

You don’t realize it but you can see the Gudy’s rest lookout point as you are hiking toward it. The obvious cliffs visible from below feature a comfortable log bench to sit and enjoy the view. It is 1.6 miles of switchbacks from the bridge to the viewpoint. It took me 1:20 hours of fairly easy hiking to arrive.

From the bench there are good views down Junction Creek and toward some of the mountains in the Durango Area. Gudy’s rest is named for Gudy Gaskill, named to the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame in 2002, and the most influential person in making the Colorado Trail the national jewel hiking, biking, and horse trail that it is.