OUT: Haggerty’s Hikes November 15, 2008

COOL WEATHER MAKES FLUME CREEK GREAT FALL TRAIL

Boy, do I hope the weather is as nice for your hike as it was for mine. 

Shirt-sleeve temperatures and blue skies greeted me on the Flume Creek Canyon Trail this past week. A favorite with local hikers and horseback riders, this trail is in the “Front Country” of the Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness.

Minutes from Grand Junction, this designated trail for hikers and horseback riders is part of a network of popular trails leading to Devils Canyon, Flume Creek Canyon, Pollock Bench, Pollock Canyon and the Fruita Paleontological Area.

Heavy rains a few years ago created extensive damage to portions of this trail system.  The Colorado Mountain Club (CMC), which adopted the trails in Flume Creek Canyon, “Friends of McInnis Canyons,” a local nonprofit group, and the Bureau of Land Management, teamed up to perform needed work on this trail over the past couple years. Their hard work is greatly appreciated. Under the watchful eye of the National Conservation Area Manager Paul Peck, the trail was reworked to create a more sustainable route.

Everyone involved did a superb job. Thanks.

The Flume Creek Canyon Loop (F1), is 4.8 miles long, but there are dozens of miles of trails in this system. They’re all well marked with brown carsonite posts that display directional arrows. Hikers and riders will also find white 4-inch by 4-inch posts at every trail intersection. 

It’s hard to get lost here — but it can happen. That’s why the Friends placed maps of the trail system at
each trailhead. You can also find a copy of the BLM’s excellent information pamphlet and trail map on the Devils Canyon and Pollock Bench Trail System — available for free from a rack outside the BLM office on H Road and Horizon Drive, across H Road from the airport. 

To reach the Pollock Bench Trailhead for both Pollock and Flume trails, go west from Grand Junction on I-70 to Fruita (Exit 19). Travel south across the river for 1.3 miles on Colorado Highway 340 to Kings View Estates Subdivision, directly across the road from Rimrock Adventures. Turn right (west) and go through the subdivision. When the pavement ends, veer to the left around the new Fruita Open Space area and follow the signs toward Horsethief Canyon State Wildlife Area. 

The Pollock Bench Trailhead parking lot is 3.3 miles from the subdivision. You’ll pass the Devils Canyon Trailhead on the way and you’ll also pass the Fruita Paleontological Area, with its excellent information displays.

The Pollock Bench Trailhead is on the south (left) side of the road just before you enter the main section of the Horsethief Canyon area. This parking area is large enough for numerous horse trailers, as this trail is accessible to both hikers and horseback riders. Mountain bikes and motorized vehicles are not allowed.

A vault toilet is found at the trailhead near an excellent information kiosk and a sign-in register. It’s important to sign in, not only for safety reasons, but to allow the Bureau of Land Management to keep tabs on use in the area.

Trails here are managed as “designated trails only.” The BLM is closing and rehabilitating excess routes. Recreationists are asked to stay on designated trails since cross-country hiking and horseback riding affect fragile desert soils.

The high desert climate and rugged landscape can make this a tough area. Summer daytime temperatures can soar above 100 degrees. However, now is a wonderful time to visit. Biting gnats can be a huge problem from May through August, but that’s not an issue this time of year. 

 Mud. Now, that’s an issue this time of year. That’s why it’s important to stay on the designated trails and maintain the integrity of the area. 

Another issue here pertains to pets. Please be considerate of other hikers and riders. Keep your pet on a leash when approaching other users and help keep trails clean. Remember that hiking in canyon country with pets will increase stress on wildlife, so keep your pets under control at all times.

This area receives a fair amount of use, which is one of the reasons Friends of McInnis Canyons formed as an organization. These Friends are committed to “enhancing personal and community stewardship of natural, cultural and heritage resources on public lands encompassing the McInnis Canyons NCA.”

You can help the Friends by simply treading lightly on this fragile environment. You’re also encouraged to join the group and help provide volunteer and financial support to “enhance wildlife habitat, construct and maintain trails and to fund research studies and educational efforts.”

For information, pick up one of the maps at the trailhead. All the information you need is on the back. Or, go to http://www.McInnisCanyons.org.

For more on Colorado Mountain Club, go to http://www.cmc.org. 


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