Take care of the trail on Pollock Bench

Make sure to follow the rules when hiking at Pollock Bench


Pollock Bench Trail

Drive time and distance: 16.2 miles; 26 minutes

Length: 5.6 miles (on the P-1 loop)

Hiking Time: 2.5 to 3.5 hours

Difficulty: Moderate

The trail heads at Devil’s Canyon and Pollock Bench in the front country of the McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area were dry and in good condition for a Super Bowl Sunday hike.

Apparently, everyone else in town knew that. The parking areas to these trail heads were quite full. Yet, the extensive trail system existing here readily disperses all those outdoor enthusiasts, sun worshipers, pet walkers, horse riders and fresh air freaks.

The trail head to the Pollock Bench area is 4.5 miles from Starvin’ Arvin’s in Fruita and is located on the eastern edge of the Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness Area. Take Interstate 70 (or old Highway 6 & 50) west to Fruita (Highway 340/Exit 19 off the interstate). 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, past Fruita’s Open Space area at Snooks Bottom, then follow the signs toward Horsethief Canyon State Wildlife Area. The Pollock Bench trail head parking lot is located 3.3 miles from the subdivision, just before you approach the main entrance of Horsethief Canyon Wildlife Area.

You’ll pass the Devil’s Canyon Trail head on the way and you’ll also pass the Fruita Paleontological Area, with all its excellent information displays.

The parking lot at Pollock Bench Trail head is large enough for horse trailers, because these trails are accessible to both hikers and horseback riders. Mountain bikes and motorized vehicles are not allowed.

A vault toilet is found at the trail head, and there’s 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.” Open trails are assigned with white arrows on brown carsonite posts. If a trail is not marked with a white arrow, the trail is closed.

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.

Another issue for trail maintenance this time of year is usually mud. It’s not a good idea to hike here after a storm. It really messes up the trails for both hiking and horseback riding.

Also, although pets are welcome in the area, the BLM graciously asks that pet owners keep pets on leashes when approaching other users and help keep trails clean.

Don’t forget, hiking in canyon country with pets increases stress on wildlife, especially in the spring when bighorn sheep are lambing in these canyons. Remember to keep an eye out for those bighorns, and keep your pet under tight control at all times.

A group of friends known as the Colorado Canyons Association would like to know if you hike or ride here often. Its website at http://www.coloradocanyonsassociation.org asks users the following:

“Do you find yourself in McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area more than twice each month? Do you have a favorite trail in the NCA that you visit on a regular basis? Do you need an excuse to get out on the trails more often? Consider becoming a CCA trail monitor and help keep our trails in good condition!” 

“Trail monitors,” according to the group, “will help CCA and our local BLM office take an inventory of the condition of the trails throughout the NCA so we can keep them in good condition and provide the most up-to-date information to the public.”

If you are interested in participating in this important program or to learn more about it, contact Rosa Brey at 970-263-7902 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

The mission of the Colorado Canyons Association is to “foster community stewardship of our National Conservation System Lands with a focus on Dominguez-Escalante, Gunnison Gorge and McInnis Canyons National Conservation Areas in Western Colorado.”

It’s a non-partisan, non-profit organization that encourages cooperation among all NCA users and interests.

Colorado Canyons Association’s board of directors includes hikers as well as ATV users and mountain bikers alongside equestrians.

Traditional land uses such as grazing, hunting and fishing continue in national conservation areas, as well as these other divergent recreational pastimes. This board of directors represents different groups that have not always agreed on issues surrounding public lands. Nonetheless, they’re willing to meet monthly and discuss issues that affect all of us.

Right on!

Collaboration amongst diverse interests has made NCA management successful around here, and even if you’re not interested in helping maintain these trails, if you’d like to be part of this process, join the Colorado Canyons Association.

You can do that by sending a big, fat check to the group at 543 Main St., No. 4, Grand Junction, 81501, or hop online at http://www.coloradocanyonsassociation.org.


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