Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Dalla Mountain Park in Durango

The Dalla Mountain Park is a small trail system of about 4.7 miles on the northwest side of Durango in southwest Colorado. Turn west at 25th Street from Highway 550 and find a small parking area on the right after about 1 mile.

This area is along Junction Creek, the same area where the Colorado Trail begins further along the road. The Falls Creek Archaeological area is also in this area. Dalla Mountain Park trails also connect to the trails on Animas Mountain. Like other Durango area trail systems, there are good map signs at each major trail junction showing where you are and where the alternate routes lead. The maps also show the distance for each segment.

At the trailhead area there are three choices. I stayed to the left on the segment that looks like an old road. The trail climbs gradually through tall Ponderosa Pines and Gambel Oaks.  In late April, the oaks were just starting to leaf out. I tried to mostly follow the outer segments to make a large loop.

Most of the trail segments in Dalla Mountain Park have descriptive names, starting with Jacobs Cliffs. Some of the middle segments are labeled Bouldering. It becomes obvious quickly that there are many large boulders scattered all around the trail system. Many of the boulders offer nearly vertical surfaces up to about 20 feet high.

At the northern end of the system there are some views west toward the LaPlata Mountains. One of the trail segments at this end leads downhill to another trailhead. The trail continues climbing before making a loop in the segment named Sailing Hawks. There were a couple of Turkey Vultures sailing in this area during my hike. Among the Ponderosa Pines I saw one tall spruce tree in this upper area.

Descending on the north edge of the Bouldering segment the trail passes along the cliffs of Animas Mountain and one of the largest boulders. Along the trail I saw about 10 other hikers and one person trying some climbing.

The only wildflower I saw was this Serviceberry bush in the Rose Family. The Utah Serviceberry is common in the Pinon Juniper forests but I think this is the species that grows in more alpine habitats. My hike at Dalla Mountain Park took 1:30 hours for about 2.9 miles on a 65 F degree late April day.

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