Time to take a Turkey trot

Turkey Flats Trail is close to home, and has great views of wildflowers

The Turkey Flats Trail head is only 25 miles from town, but it sits at 8,400 feet in elevation in the midst of a beautiful, cool, quaking aspen forest.

Salsify is just another name for a spectacular “weed,” producing baseball-sized “blowballs” or seedheads. According to the queen of Western Colorado Wildflowers, Katherine Darrow, in her great book “Wild About Wildflowers,” Salsify, like its cousin the dandelion, intentionally was imported from Europe, primarily for culinary purposes. The long taproot resembles a parsnip and can be found for sale in some groceries. Another common name is goatsbeard.

Showy Goldeneye, the smallest of the dominant yellow sunflowers, can have 20 to 30 flower heads per plant. It blooms in late summer and fills whole meadows along the Turkey Flats Trail with its cheerful blossoms.


Turkey Flats Loop

Drive time and distance: 47 minutes; 24.6 miles.

Length: 9.6-mile loop.

Riding time: 90 minutes to two hours.

Hiking time: 4.5 to six hours

Elevation: 8,400 to 8,800 feet.

Difficulty: Easy to moderate.

There are approximately 115,000 species of moths and butterflies in the world. I don’t even know the three or four I saw on Turkey Flats, but they’re still cool. So is the Turkey Flats Trail.

In fact, it’s about 20 degrees cooler than in town.

This trail head is only 25 miles from town, but it sits at 8,400 feet in elevation, in the midst of a beautiful, cool, quaking aspen forest.

With lots of wildflowers.

And butterflies.

To reach the Turkey Flats trail head, take Grand Avenue over the Colorado River Bridge and turn left onto Monument Road. Travel through the Colorado National Monument’s east entrance. You’ll come to the Glade Park turnoff just past Cold Shivers Point. Turn left and go to the Glade Park Store, 14.5 miles from Fourth and Main. Turn left onto 16.5 Road. The pavement ends in another 2.6 miles, but stay on it.

This is a well-maintained dirt road, but watch your speed as there are a few blind curves. Mud Springs Campground is 4.2 miles past the end of the pavement. In another 1.3 miles you’ll come to a fork in the road. Take the right fork toward Fruita Divide. In 1.5 miles you’ll enter Grand Mesa National Forest.

Travel past Fruita Reservoir No. 1 and the Fruita picnic ground, then past Fruita Reservoir No. 2. About 0.3 miles past No. 2, you’ll see the Turkey Flats trail head on your left. Park on the right.

This trail is easy to follow and well-maintained. Mountain bikers use it. Hikers love it. The Mesa Monument Striders running club dashes through these woods, and horseback riders enjoy the quiet solitude offered in this remote area only minutes from town.

Dogs are welcome as long as they’re not chasing deer, elk or other wildlife found in the area. The only tracks I saw the other day, before a great rainstorm pushed me back to the vehicle, belonged to one horse, a lone mountain biker, a doe deer and a couple of fawns. Mine were the only footprints, but this area will see some foot traffic on the weekends, especially in the spring and fall.

help build Mesa Top Trail

Another great trail for spring and fall is the Mesa Top Trail on the top of Grand Mesa. In fact, next week would be a great time to visit. You could join Antonelli’s Advanced Automotive, COPMOBA and the U.S. Forest Service in completing this new trail, designed to provide a “quiet-use” singletrack trail from Colorado Highway 65 to Flowing Park Reservoir and the Indian Point/Flowing Park trail loop.

Approximately 3.5 miles of trail has been constructed, and volunteers are needed to continue, and possibly finish, construction during four events planned for this year, the first one occurring on Aug. 17-18.

As most local outdoor enthusiasts know, COPMOBA is the Colorado Plateau Mountain Bike Trail Association, a nationally recognized and awarded group of mountain bikers dedicated to the development and maintenance of regional mountain bike trails on the Colorado Plateau.

“Our main trails include Kokopelli’s, Tabeguache and Paradox,” COPMOBA spokesman Dan Antonelli said, “but we also work on all mountain bike trails in the area and are always working to get new trails built.”

If you can’t help out on Aug 17-18, send this fine group a donation to support its work. Find out more by going to the http://www.COPMOBA.org.

Ute Canyon Trail repairs

Colorado National Monument’s trail crew began work earlier this week to repair trail structures in the switchbacks of upper Ute Canyon Trail.

The goal of the trail project is to improve hiker safety, enhance trail stability and sustainability and upgrade resource protection in the area. Your entrance fees are being used to accomplish these improvements.

A one-mile section of Ute Canyon Trail, between the trail head on Rim Rock Drive and the streambed crossing in the vicinity of Fallen Rock in the canyon below, will be closed temporarily because of narrowed trail width and the potential for rock fall during construction. This closure is NOT related to recent mountain lion activity or state agency operations in the vicinity of Black Ridge Trail, which is now open to the public.

During the first phase of the Ute Canyon Trail project, from Aug. 7 through Sept. 6, the upper one-mile section of trail through the switchbacks will be completely closed to the public. The closure is necessary for public safety.

During the second phase of the trail project, Sept. 7–27, the upper one-mile section of trail through the switchbacks will be closed only during times of construction, Tuesdays through Fridays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The switchbacks will be open every evening after 5 p.m. and all day Saturdays through Mondays.

The trail head at Wildwood Drive, the Corkscrew Trail and the lower 3.5 miles of Ute Canyon Trail will remain open to the public during all phases of the project.


Commenting is not available in this channel entry.

Search More Jobs

734 S. Seventh St.
Grand Junction, CO 81501
970-242-5050; M-F 8:00 - 5:00
Subscribe to print edition
eTear Sheets/ePayments

© 2017 Grand Junction Media, Inc.
By using this site you agree to the Visitor Agreement and the Privacy Policy