Saturday, July 2, 2011

Glade Guard Station Trail in Summer

The Glade is a wide and long meadow area in the western part of the San Juan National Forest in southwest Colorado. The hiking access that I used is about 15 miles north along Forest Road 504 from the Bradfield Recreation area on the lower Dolores River. At 14 miles the Forest Road passes the 50 acres Glade Lake, a good waterfowl bird watching site.

The Glade extends east and west for about 2 miles between Forest Roads 504 and 514. I think the mountain in the distance is called Glade Mountain. In the spring, there is a lot of water flowing through the Glade, but in early July the streams were dry. Besides Glade Lake, there are some other wetlands ponds in the area. There are a fair amount of wildflowers throughout the meadow area.

Besides the waterfowl at Glade Lake, I had the luck to see a small herd of Elk resting among the Ponderosa Pines along the north edge of the Glade. Most of the group was lounging in the shade. I might have missed seeing them if two of the group hadn’t ventured out into the open.

They retreated back into the forest when I got to within about 200 yards. From the distance I thought there were about 15 animals in the herd. Besides the Ponderosa Pines, this section of forest has many Aspens and Gamble Oaks.

Toward the east end of the Glade there is a Forest Road Junction of roads 514 and 497. At this junction the historic Glade Guard Station is visible.

The station was established in 1905 and was very isolated at the time. The existing structures were built in 1916 and the station continued to operate until the 1970s when it fell into disuse. There is a current volunteer project to restore the structures and make them available for public rental.

The main thrust of the restoration is to preserve the past, with former forest workers providing the momentum. I just observed from a distance, as it appeared that work was going on during my visit to the area.

 I explored into the forest in the area above the junction of 514 and 497. From here I could see one of the wetlands areas but didn't go over to it. Along a cow trail that followed a fence line I had a Black Bear sighting.

The bear stepped out of the brush and stood up for about 5 seconds, seemingly very calm. It then ducked back into the brush in an unhurried manner. Elk herds and Black Bear on the same hike is a rare double.

Besides the Glade, I did some hiking in the forest area between Glade Lake and the Glade. Compared to the spring, the water level is lower with a wider band of dark green wetlands vegetation. I just took a quick glance at Glade Lake, but I think I saw American Coots, Shovelers and Redhead ducks.

There are several fence lines in the area, usually with cow trails along them that a hiker can follow. My total hike was for 3:00 hours for about 6 miles. It was a 95 F degree day in the Cortez, CO area but comfortable in the forest. I carried and drank 2 liters of water.

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