Monday, May 27, 2013

More Adventure in the Mountains North of Mancos

We were contemplating a seven mile hike at 12,000 ft elevation but nixed that idea thinking the road could still be covered in snow and didn't want to drive 25 miles to find that out.

We wanted to explore a slightly different area than a couple days ago so we headed up Fire Road 566 (the turn off for Echo Basin) just East of Mancos and made our way to the trail head for Owens Basin Trail. The hiking brochure said that this trail crosses the Mancos River and should not be attempted in the spring. But the map in the brochure did not show this trail crossing any river! We decided to just wing it, thinking we could improvise if we had to. (The description in this link is the same as my hard copy, but the map does not match.)

Anyhow, we made it to the trail head just as described and headed down the road.

It was beautiful, of course. We are in the Colorado mountains after all!
We saw many, many of these interesting looking plants that kind of remind me of Hostas.

After heading downhill for a while we came to the signed Owens Basin trail head and moments later came to the heavy flowing South Fork of the West Mancos River.

I've seen other blog posts about this hike so I know you can cross it in July or August...but we definitely weren't crossing it in May! So we headed back to the truck enjoying the gorgeous scenery all around us.

We decided to continue up FR 566 because it looked like you could make a loop drive out of it. Less than half a mile later the decent dirt road turned really rocky...but we have a 4WD truck so what the heck. Moments later we had a potential road block.

No problem at all, just move aside what you can and ease your way over it!

We continued on up the road, which remained quite rocky, and were treated to some amazing views. There were even some lucky tent campers on the hill opposite the incredible views below.

Looking North East

Looking South East

A couple minutes later I got to see what those Hosta-like plants look like when they bloom:

Avalanche pretty!

At this point we met up with a guy in a Grand Cherokee heading towards us who said he had gotten stuck in the snow just up the road and had to be pulled out by some Jeepers. Sounds like a good time to turn around! Heading back the way we came we continued to be thrilled by the beauty around us.

Snow melt streams were everywhere.
Marsh Marigolds! In two colors!

We saw more wonderful boondocking sites along the road:

Standing in one boondocking site we could see someone else enjoying their site just up the road.

And the view from the site we were standing in...
While observing these boondocking sites we noticed a trail and decided to stretch our legs...
This unmarked but well-used trail invited us to meander for a bit.
It headed off into a large stand of aspen and seemed to be an old road bed.

The trail kept heading down hill and we decided we'd gone far enough. After enjoying the view to the South West, towards Mesa Verde and our campground, we headed back towards the truck by a different route.

Clouds and haze are building over the Mancos Valley.

We bushwacked part of the way back and saw what I've since identified as bear scat (I'll spare you the photo). First time we've seen that...and while I'd love to see a bear while hiking, I also don't really want that adrenalin rush!

It was in the aspen grove, bushwacking along the stream that we saw the bear scat.

On the way back down we checked out a neat looking RV Park, Echo Basin RV Resort, that could be a good place to park (with full hookups) next time we're in the area. I'd still like to do the Indian Ridge Trail at 12,000 feet, but a little later in the year.


  1. Love this type day with new adventures. Beautiful country! Love those flowers.

  2. Great photos of our former home state of Colorado. It's so green and lush compared to the desert here in New Mexico. Thanks!

  3. PS John was thrilled that Hans just drove over the tree!!