Sunday, October 7, 2012

Dolores River at Salter Canyon-Lone Dome

Salter Canyon is a north side canyon of the Dolores River in the Lone Dome Recreation Area in the San Juan National Forest in southwest Colorado. The Lone Dome Recreation Area is located 6 miles east of Pleasant View and includes the first 12 miles of Dolores River below the McPhee Dam.

I parked at the Ferris Canyon Campground which is open in the off season and is about 7 miles east along the Lone Dome Forest Road. Salter Canyon is about 0.4 miles further east. From the campground you can hike along the gravel Forest Road or along the banks of the Dolores River. There is a fence along the road with an easy gate near the mouth of Salter Canyon.

There is a wide creek bed with a bridge at the mouth of Salter Canyon. On the west side there is an unmarked trail that follows up the canyon. It looks like this trail was once a road but is now abandoned. The lower canyon has Ponderosa Pines and with thickets of Gambel Oak. There are also Rocky Mountain Junipers and Narrowleaf Cottonwoods along the creek.

The west side of the canyon has steep sandstone walls. I scanned the canyon walls for signs of ruins sites but didn't notice anything. The thickets of oak made it difficult to approach the canyon walls.

The trail was easy to follow for about 0:30 minutes or about 1 mile and then the forest became very thick and the trail overgrown. I saw one very large Ponderosa Pine near the upper end of my hike.

My hike in Salter Canyon was for about 1:00 hour with some additional time looking along the Dolores River. My total hike was for about 2:30 hours on a 70 F degree early October day. Other points of interest a little further east in this area include the old cabins that were the Lone Dome Ranger Station in 1912. There are also some old ranching structures in the same area.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Dolores River at House Creek

The House Creek Recreation Complex is a 65 site campground and 4 lane boat ramp site on the McPhee Reservoir of the Dolores River. This facility is in the San Juan National Forest in southwest Colorado. It is located 13 miles northwest of the town of Dolores using Forest Road 526 with a left turn on Forest Road 528.

House Creek is one of the flooded tributaries of the Dolores River about 5 miles upstream of the McPhee Dam. Before arriving at the Recreation Complex, there are 3 pull over bank fishing sites along House Creek with short trails leading toward the water.

There aren't any official hiking trails in the House Creek Complex, but there is room to walk along the shore and the park roads. In the fall, the McPhee Reservoir level may be low enough to expose Ancestral Pueblo ruins sites that were flooded by the reservoir project.

It looks like there is a ruins site on the cliffs near the mouth of the flooded House Creek. This site isn't very far below the high water line. I saw one piece of pottery associated with this circular pile of rubble.

Part of the exposed lake bed is easy to walk on and other parts are steep but with ledges. On the south end of the Complex there is a section of forest above the high water line.

In this forested area that would have had a high view of the Dolores River there is a vague rubble pile that could be a ruins site.

Associated with the rubble pile were several pottery shards and what looked like a set of grinding stones. There are some unofficial trails leading to this forest area from the group site at the south end of the complex. I continued a short distance further south to a flooded side canyon and then returned along the complex roadways. My total walk around the House Creek area took 2:00 hours on an early October day.

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