Grant will pay for rerouting pleasant monument hike, as a way to thank landowner
Canyon tree frogs love Echo Canyon. I’m sure they like to hear their own echoes, but they also appreciate the cool, shallow pools along an intermittent stream found in this colorful canyon on the southeastern end of Colorado National Monument.
The tree frog is a little sucker — it can hide in the palm of your hand — but it’s call is like “the bleat of a goat or a hoarse sheep,” according to author Geoffrey Hammerson in a great book called “Amphibians and Reptiles in Colorado.”
Hammerson says Canyon tree frogs don’t climb trees. Rather, they retreat to rock crevices in hot weather and during the cold season. Most activity occurs from May to September, along small bodies of water in Echo and a few other canyons just west of town.
The tree frog ranges from southwestern United States through central Mexico, but in Colorado, it is found only along the south rim of the Colorado River valley west of Grand Junction and in John Brown Canyon near Gateway.
One unsung hero watching over the tree frogs in Echo Canyon is Bob Harris, whose private property has been crossed by Echo Canyon Trail for many years.
This past week, Harris was formally thanked for his generosity in a ceremony at REI, the outdoor retail co-op at the corner of Seventh and Main streets.
REI gave Colorado National Monument Association an $8,000 grant for rerouting one mile of trail, building one-quarter mile of new trail and posting signs directing the public away from Harris’ land. It will also pay the cost for rehabilitating about a half-mile of his private property.
The monument has temporarily rerouted the trail away from the Harris property. The remainder of the trail work will be performed Sept. 25 on National Public Lands Day. REI grant funds will provide materials for the project and recognition items for volunteers.
“This grant will also help us formally thank Mr. Harris for his generosity in allowing a trail through his property for these many years,” said Michelle Wheatley, spokeswoman for the Colorado National Monument.
REI also awarded very generous grants this past week to the Colorado Plateau Mountain Bike Trail Association and the Grand Mesa Nordic Council.
The mountain biking association received a $10,000 grant to help develop a really cool bike park just down the road from Echo Canyon at the Bureau of Land Management Tabeguache Lunch Loops trail head on Monument Road.
“Designed to develop and hone bike skills that are utilized on remote singletrack trail,” says a recent release from the association, “the Lunch Loop Skills Area ...will feature a pump track, graduated jump lines for beginner, intermediate and advanced riders, and a dual slalom course.”
Construction on the bike park will begin in early October.
The third REI grant, for $5,000, went to the Grand Mesa Nordic Council, those fine folks who groom the best cross-country ski trails in the nation on Grand Mesa.
The nordic council will use the grant to support a new volunteer coordinator position.
I’ll try to keep up on that as we get closer to ski season.
In the meantime, to find Echo Canyon, take Grand Avenue over the Colorado River as it turns into Broadway. Turn left at Monument Road and stay on that into the Colorado National Monument. You’ll pass that BLM Tabeguache Lunch Loops trail head on your way.
With a $20 annual pass, (or National Parks Golden Eagle Pass), you may proceed through the monument entrance. If not, cough up $7 for private non-commercial vehicles, or $4 for individual hikers, bicyclists or motorcyclists. Passes are good for seven consecutive days. Fees apply to those 16 years old and above.
About 0.2 mile past the entrance, there’s a parking lot on the left hand (south) side of the road. The trail head is at the south end of this parking lot. Signs point to No Thoroughfare Canyon, Devil’s Kitchen and Old Gordon Trail.
The trail crosses the wash in the bottom of No Thoroughfare Canyon. Once in the wash, you’d take a right turn at the sign reading: “PLEASE, no dogs” and hike up Old Gordon Trail. However, you want to travel one canyon south, so follow the signs into Echo Canyon.
This short gentle trail follows the canyon bottom to its boxed end and this scenery looks similar to No Thoroughfare Canyon. Go figure. Same rock. Same rock formation. Even the waterfall at the boxed end of Echo Canyon, about a mile and a half from the parking lot, looks stinkingly similar to the first waterfall in No Thoroughfare Canyon.
“But Echo Canyon is a real gem,” Wheatley said. “This is a very special canyon.”
Thanks for allowing us access for so many years, Mr. Harris. You’re a good man! And, thanks REI for your commitment to promoting environmental stewardship and increasing access to outdoor recreation.