OUT: Haggerty’s Hikes October 18, 2008
DODGE BULLETS ON THESE TRAILS
As I took a great mid-day, mid-week hike along the Corkscrew Trail the other day, I tried to think of options for local hikers for the next few weeks while big game rifle hunting season takes place.
• Corkscrew Trail is an obvious one. It’s accessed from the Wildwood Trailhead on the Redlands in Grand Junction, only 10 minutes and 5.4 miles from Grand Junction. It took me about one hour and 15 minutes to hike the 2.2 mile loop the other day, but this trailhead also accesses Ute Trail and Liberty Cap Trail into the Colorado National Monument, where hunting is not allowed.
To reach this trailhead, take Broadway (Colorado Highway 340) to the Redlands Parkway and turn left on South Broadway (or take the Redlands Parkway and stay on it since it turns into South Broadway).
Travel past South Camp Road and continue on South Broadway just past Riggs Hill until you come to Wildwood Drive. Turn left, and then veer to the right past the private residences. Please respect their privacy and drive slowly. You’ll soon spy a “trailhead” sign on your right. Turn here and park in the gravel lot.
• Although hunting is not allowed in the National Monument, neither are dogs, so dog lovers may want to hike along the Pollock Bench trail system within the Bureau of Land Management’s McInnis Canyon National Conservation Area, or the Bridgeport Access to Big Dominguez Canyon in the Dominguez Canyon Wilderness Study Area.
The Pollock Bench Trailhead is only 4.5 miles from Starvin’ Arvin’s in Fruita and is on the eastern edge of the McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area.
To reach the trailhead from Grand Junction, take Interstate 70 west to Fruita (Exit 19 off I-70). Travel south across the river for 1.3 miles to Kings View Estates Subdivision. It’s 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 gravel pit and follow the signs to Horsethief Canyon State Wildlife Area. The Pollock Bench trailhead parking lot is 3.3 miles from the subdivision.
You’ll pass the Devil’s Canyon Trailhead on the way and you’ll also pass the Fruita Paleontological Area, with all its excellent information displays.
The Pollock Bench Trailhead is located just before you enter the main section of Horsethief Canyon SWA. The parking lot is large enough for horse trailers, as this trail is accessible to both hikers and horseback riders. Mountain bikes and motorized vehicles are not allowed. Dogs are allowed but must be under control, and you need to pick up after your own rover.
A vault toilet is at the trailhead, and there’s a sign-in register. It’s important to sign in, not only for safety reasons, but also to allow the Bureau of Land Management to keep tabs on use in the area.
• The Bridgeport Access into Big Dominguez Canyon is also managed by the Bureau of Land Management. To reach this area, travel 21.5 miles south of downtown Grand Junction on U.S. Highway 50 past Kannah Creek to the Bridgeport Road at mile marker 52. (Careful, it sneaks up on you just as you crest a hill. The Delta/Mesa county line is at mile marker 53, so if you get there, turn around, you’ve gone a mile too far.)
Turn west on the Bridgeport Road and travel 3.2 miles on a well-maintained gravel road to the parking lot next to the railroad tracks and adjacent to the Gunnison River. Please respect the private property you drive through on your way to the river.
At the parking area, you’ll find a gate with a sign that reads: “Property of Sheep Head R.R. Co. No Trespassing.” A BLM sign on the same gate, of course, says “Please Close the Gate.”
Adjacent to that gate is another BLM signpost that notes the trail is open to hiking and horseback, but closed to bicycles and all motorized traffic. It’s next to a small walk-through gate.
The first mile of trail follows the old frontage road next to the railroad tracks. You’ll come to the historic hanging bridge first. A few yards beyond, you’ll find the new pedestrian bridge and a couple BLM information kiosks. Read those, then cross the river and head upstream for another .7 miles to the mouth of the canyon and stick to the main path. In another 1.5 miles, you’ll come to a cool waterfall. From there, it’s another 2.9 miles upstream to the where the Cactus Park Trail drops into Big Dominguez Canyon.
These areas should be great spots to visit until hunting season ends, and well into the winter, so don’t get stuck inside, Take a Hike!