Staunton SP

Staunton SP

Friday, September 16, 2011

Mesa Creek Trail, Curecanti National Recreation Area

Mesa Creek Trail
Curecanti National Recreation Area

Date Hiked: September 16, 2011

Distance: 1.6 mi (RT)

Elevation Gain: 300ft

Managing Agency: National Park Service

Curecanti NRA Hiking Website (NPS)

Directions:  This hike is located in the Cimarron section of the park.  From Montrose take Hwy 50 to Cimarron, exit the highway at the Cimarron NPS Visitor Center.  From here drive 1 mile down to the Morrow Point Dam parking area.

This hike is all about the start of Black Canyon.  The trail begins just west of the Morrow Point Dam.  The Dam is an impressive sight.  From the parking area, the trail descends to the Gunnison River.  A footbridge crosses over Crystal Reservoir as the rest of the trail runs along the north shore of the Gunnison.  The trail hugs the canyon walls traveling through nice vegetation and always leading you towards the ever narrowing canyon.  The lure of the canyon is almost irresistible here.  Unfortunately, after about .8 miles, the trail stops.  You will want to go deeper and explore Black Canyon but resist these urges and force yourself to turn back.  Once back at your car, drive to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and satisfy your, now uncontrollable, canyon craving.  

Devil's Kitchen

Devil's Kitchen Trail
Colorado National Monument

Date Hiked: Sept. 16, 2011

Distance: 1.5 mi (Round Trip)

Elevation Gain: 300 ft

Park Website - National Park Service
Trail Map - National Park Service

This short but fun hike starts just after entering the park through the East Entrance.  Follow the signs pointing to Devil's Kitchen through desert scrub following a small creek.  Head towards the rock formations ahead and keep your eye out for the unmarked steps carved into the slickrock on the right.  Follow cairns and a faint trail up the slickrock to the towering rock formations.  This is the Devil's Kitchen, a shaded flat area surrounded by towering rocks and views out onto Thoroughfare Canyon.  This is short but sweet trail but it can be tricky to find the slickrock steps.  If you miss the turn off you can still explore the rocky terrain and enjoy the tranquility of the desert.

Sweitzer Trail, Sweitzer Lake State Park

Sweitzer Trail
Sweitzer Lake State Park

Date Hiked: Sept. 16, 2011

Distance:  1.4 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 17 ft
Elevation: 5,000ft
Managing Agency: Colorado Dept. of Parks and Wildlife
Fee: $7.00

Sweitzer Lake State Park Trail Map

Directions:  From Delta, head south on Hwy 50 until you see the sign for Sweitzer Lake State Park.  Turn left (east) on E Road and enter the park.

Sweitzer Lake State Park is a small park built around a reservoir in-between Montrose and Delta.  The park has a 1.4 mile trail called the Sweitzer Trail that runs along the north end of the reservoir.  There is a gravel road that follows the southern end and connects to the Sweitzer Trail.  The lake is popular for fishing and boating and is a nice stop along Hwy 50.

Coke Ovens Trail, Colorado National Monument

Coke Ovens Trail
Colorado National Monument

Date Hiked: September 16, 2011

Distance: 1.25 mi (RT)

Elevation Gain: 150ft

Colorado National Monument Trail Map (NPS)

Directions:  The hike starts from the Upper Monument Trailhead, 3.8 miles east of the Visitor Center on Rim Rock Road.

This short hike brings you to an overlook of the Coke Ovens, an interesting group of rock formations and towers.  The trail descends the cliffs of the canyon and then levels out onto a ridge that takes you to the overlook.  The overlook, as well as the decent into the canyon, makes this short hike a must do for first time visitors.