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.

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