Hiking Coloradoand39;s Western Slope  by Bill Haggerty

Hiking Colorado's Western Slope

by Bill Haggerty (Falcon Guides)
Hiking Coloradoand39;s Western Slope  by Bill Haggerty
The hikes that are included here, for the most part, remain off the beaten path and they’re spread all across the Western Slope, so you can discover your own favorite part on the bright side of the Continental Divide.

© 2017 Bill Haggerty/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "Hiking Colorado's Western Slope" Guide Book
45 Trail Guides

The Raggeds Wilderness covers 65,443 acres in the Gunnison and White River national forests and preserves two ranges in the Elk Mountains: the Raggeds, jutting skyward to serrated ridgetops; and the Ruby Range, white capped through much of the year. This trail leads right to the middle of it, following Anthracite Creek beneath the towering rock walls of Dark Canyon. Elevations range from 6,800 feet to 13,000 feet, but this trail is lower so hiking is relatively easy on the stretch described here.
Paonia, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 7.8
Daydreaming of Western Colorado? You’re probably picturing the San Juan Mountains and majestic Mt. Sneffels. If Sneffels is the quintessential mountain in the San Juan range, this is its quintessential trail. Strenuous but spectacular, steep yet stunning, the trail to Blue Lakes takes you above timberline to within 2,400 feet of the top of 14,150-foot Mt. Sneels. These three alpine lakes are full of crimson-colored Colorado River cutthroat trout, and they’re surrounded by Mt. Sneels, 13,308-foot Dallas Peak to the north, 13,694-foot Gilpin Peak to the south, and an unnamed 13,242-foot high extension of Mears Peak to the west.
Ridgway, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 8.7
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It’s a short hike, but it’s aerobically challenging, descending 880 feet from ridgetop to river in 1.1 miles. The bottom one-quarter of a mile is very steep—so steep there’s a 20-foot rope anchored to a juniper tree to assist in the climb down. It’s not OSHA approved! This trail is not for those afraid of heights or of climbing down backward on rock walls.
Delta, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.5
Hiking is permitted throughout the 12,150-acre Browns Park National Wildlife Refuge. The 1.2-mile trail described here leads from the Refuge office along Beaver Creek to a historical homesteader cabin. It’s well worth stretching your legs after the long drive. And, since you’ve come this far, you are encouraged to explore Brown’s Park on your own—on foot. Anywhere. Meander at will. This area became part of our National Wildlife Refuge System in 1965 “to provide sanctuary for migratory birds, conserve endangered and threatened species, and offer wildlife-dependent recreational opportunities.” Enjoy it, but please avoid disturbing animals by getting too close.
Maybell, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.2
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This is “the Cradle of Wilderness” where that grand and noble notion was born—that fundamental realization that we should set aside certain places in our country and never develop them, just because they’re too pristine, too special.
Meeker, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 6.0
The Grand Mesa is the largest flattop mountain in the Northern Hemisphere, rising abruptly above the Grand Valley and its communities of Palisade, Grand Junction and Fruita. The valley floor lies around 4,700 feet in elevation. The top of the mesa varies from 10,000 to 11,000 feet above sea level, with the “Crag Crest” at its peak.
Mesa, CO - Hiking,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 10.4
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This short trail leads to the remarkable ancestral ruins of Cutthroat Castle and a glimpse of Puebloan life in the arid southwest 800 years ago. Approximately 0.5 mile from the Cutthroat Castle site is Painted Hand Pueblo, located inside Canyon of the Ancients National Monument. The drive here will lead you to both sites.
Cortez, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.4
As one of our nation’s most breathtaking geologic and scenic treasures, hikes along the rim of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison River—and into the gorge itself—offer visitors spectacular views of some of the steepest cliffs, oldest rock, and craggiest spires in North America. Deadhorse Trail is the least used rim trail within this small national park (the third smallest in the United States), yet views here are spectacular. Easy terrain offers those who are not physically capable of the strenuous climbs into the inner canyon a glimpse into its rugged nature.
Crawford, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 6.4
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The Dolores River drains the western side of the Uncompahgre Plateau and San Juan Mountains. It flows southwest from 12,500foot Hermosa Peak before making a U-turn and flowing north from Durango, for 241 miles to meet the Colorado River near Cisco, Utah. The Dolores River is considered one of the most endangered rivers in the United States because of McPhee Dam near Durango, low water flows, high salt content, diversions, invasive plant species such as tamarisk, and a number of other issues. Nonetheless, this trail offers a unique hiking opportunity in a remote and beautiful canyon where the solitude is engulfing.
Gateway, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 7.1
The Dominguez Canyon Wilderness is a 66,280-acre maze of incredibly picturesque canyons located in the heart of the 210,000 acre Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area. Both were created by an act of Congress in 2009. Here, red-rock canyons and sandstone bluffs provide breathtaking scenery and hold geological and paleontological resources spanning 600 million years.
Grand Junction, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 6.6
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Drop off the edge of the largest flattop mountain in the Northern Hemisphere for great views of the San Juan Mountains 100 miles to the south, the Uncompahgre Plateau 30 miles to the west and the West Elk Mountains 25 miles to the east.
Grand Mesa, CO - Hiking,Horseback Riding,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 5.0
The Forest Service describes Fall Creek as a “typical mountain creek.” While there are numerous “Fall Creeks” in Colorado and across the nation—just Google it—this Fall Creek is anything but typical.
Ridgway, CO - Hiking,Horseback Riding - Trail Length: 4.4
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Hiking this scenic trail is a great way to experience the wonders of the Weminuche Wilderness—its vast spaces, rugged cliffs and lush forests—and its serious waterfalls. The first two waterfalls are three miles from the trailhead, but you can keep hiking to find more. Early spring brings heavy snowmelt and runoff. That’s when the waterfalls thunder! Yet, because of its lower elevation and its lower longitude, bordering New Mexico, this trail stays snow-free later in the fall and melts out earlier in the spring than most treks into this wilderness. This trail leads downhill from the trailhead. (The Anderson Trail #579 leads due west and uphill from this spot. It joins Fourmile Trail near Fourmile Lake in a little more than 9 miles.) In 0.3 mile, you’ll cross a small drainage and the trail leads into a large patch of wild raspberries. They are normally in full fruit by mid-August.
Pagosa Springs, CO - Hiking,Horseback Riding - Trail Length: 8.2
Total ascent: 1,708 feet. Total descent: 1,476. There’s a lot of up and down to this Fryingpan Lakes Trail, but your rewards are well worth it. The scenery, the lakes and the jagged peaks of the Hunter-Fryingpan Wilderness all help make this a fabulous hike. The river was named for a fryingpan hung in a tree to mark the spot of a wounded trapper in a fight with native American Utes. This area has a proud history of trapping, mining and life on the Colorado frontier, where legends of wealth continue to grow.
Basalt, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 9.1
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Lodore was the first major canyon encountered by John Wesley Powell and his men on their 1869 expedition (see Sidebar). It begins as the Green River departs Brown’s Park in the northwest corner of Colorado, then carves its way through the Uinta Mountains in the southern portion of the Wyoming Basin.
Maybell, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.6
There are hot springs scattered across Western Colorado—from Steamboat Springs in northwest Colorado, to Glenwood Springs in west-central Colorado, to Dunton Hot Springs in southwest Colorado. Geyser Spring is Colorado’s only true geyser, though. Located along the West Dolores River not far from Dunton in the San Juan Mountains, this geyser doesn’t erupt like Old Faithful, but it does rumble to a sulfur-infused boiling point for 12 to 15 minutes every 40 minutes or so.
Cortez, CO - Hiking,Horseback Riding,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 2.5
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This may be the shortest hike to the shortest peak in Colorado, but that’s not to say it doesn’t hold its own charm—and risk! The charm, of course, comes from climbing a big old peak that stands out all by itself at the top of the state where you can soak in the 360-degree views. Northwest into the Encampment Range in Wyoming, northeast toward Walden, east and the Zirkel Wilderness, southeast all the way to Longs Peak along Colorado’s front range, southwest over Steamboat Lake and west to the California Park basin above Hayden.
Steamboat Springs, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.6
There are eighty-nine peaks that rise to more than 14,000 feet above sea level in the United States. California has twelve, Washington has two and Alaska has twenty-one. The remaining fifty-three protrude from the rugged Rocky Mountains in Colorado (see Sidebar).
Lake City, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 6.2
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Dinosaur National Monument is spread over 210,000 acres along the Colorado/Utah border. The Colorado side is known for spectacular canyon country while the famous Dinosaur Quarry and Visitor Center resides in Utah. The Harpers Corner Road begins in Colorado and swings into Utah, then back into Colorado along a 32-mile scenic drive that includes overlooks of the Yampa and Green Rivers.
Dinosaur, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.0
Upper Ice Lake and Fuller Lake are situated in a magnificent alpine basin deep in the San Juan Mountains. A steep climb to the turquoise waters of upper Ice Lake takes you past remarkable fields of wildflowers.
Silverton, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 8.6
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State Log Book

Feb 2019