Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Ramparts Hills Loop Trail-Echo Basin

The Ramparts Hills Loop Trail circles around the south part of the Ramparts Hills, an igneous rock outcrop in the Echo Basin area of the San Juan National Forest in southwest Colorado.

The Echo Basin Road is a north turn off of Highway 160 about 3 miles east of Mancos. Forest Road 566 continues where the pavement ends. It is about 7 miles to the trailhead area near the junction of Forest Road 566 and Forest Road 331, known as the T-Down Park and corral.

The trailhead is marked in two places, on opposite sides of a primitive campsite area. The trailhead elevation is about 9200 feet. In late May, a lot of snow is visible on the mountains just to the east. The trailhead area is mostly Ponderosa Pine and Aspen forest.
I followed the trail counter clockwise. The first segment turns west and follows a creek downhill through a shady forest section with Aspens and Spruce Fir forest. In late May, there were still patches of snow in the shady spots. The Aspen trees were just starting to show green leaves.

I had a Black Bear sighting along this segment. The bear was following the trail heading straight for me, about 100 feet away. I pulled my camera out and made a noise at the same time, and the bear immediately turned into the Aspens and disappeared. I got a picture but not a good one.
The trail emerges between a gap in the Ramparts cliffs and winds downhill crossing the same creek three times.

There are some views to the southwest toward Mesa Verde and Sleeping Ute Mountain with several reservoirs visible. This lower area is good elk winter pasture.
After 1:20 hours of hiking through forest and along the creek, there is a segment of trail along a minor forest road. Along this segment there is the ruin of an old cabin.
The cabin is near a large meadow with good views back toward the cliffs. The trail junctions with the road segment are clearly marked. Lupines and Larkspurs were in bloom and Iris was almost in bloom.

The return segment climbs about 800 feet through Gambel Oak forest along another creek. At the base of the cliffs there is a large meadow and then a segment through Aspen forest back to the trailhead.

My hike took 3:00 hours for about 6 miles. It was a 58 F degree end of May day. I carried and drank 2 liters of water. I didn’t see any other hikers during my visit.

528614_Cool Camo Russell Outdoors

1 comment:

sylvia murphy said...

Hi Todd,
I am a fellow CO hike blogger. We used your site on a recent hike to the Dolores River Canyon. I have created a link to your site from mine since I don't hike in your neck of the woods that often and want to forward my readers on to someone who does. Keep it up!!