|The tan area is the Weminuche Wilderness.
Our hike was straight up from Vallecito Reservoir near the bottom left.
The trail is accessed through the Vallecito Campground, a forest service campground, located just a few miles North of Vallecitos Reservoir. We were fortunate to hike the trail on a weekday, I am certain it is a popular destination on the weekends. We hiked the first three miles, turning around at the first bridge, after a cooling foot soak in the creek.
Soon after starting the hike, the trail heads several hundred feet above the creek in order to navigate the rock walls of the gorge. The walls of the gorge are a mixture of sharp, craggy rock and smooth, rounded rock that made me wonder if they were worn down by glaciers many eons ago.
During the next mile or so we were teased by the sound of the creek roaring through the gorge below, but only rare peek-a-boo glimpses of water were possible over the steep cliff.
|Rounded stone walls made us think a glacier must have carved its way through here.
|This smoothly rubbed section of the trail was at least 50 feet above the creek.
Glacier scrubbed or water eroded when the water level was much higher???
Finally we caught a view of the mighty creek below, with tall mountains looming in the distance:
The trail dropped down to creek level and over the next couple of miles we made forays to the waters edge to enjoy the beauty and power of the water.
Now that I know what the Colorado state flower looks like (thanks Mark!) and that there are many variations, I was excited to find a gorgeous lavender version of the Columbine all along the trail:
This was a nice hike, not too strenuous, along a very lovely creek, with a good mix of sun and shade. In a few weeks there should be masses of flowers and berries.
Driving back to Durango we continued around Vallecito Reservoir and found that the road turns to gravel and has one fairly rough section, but you can drive all the way around, including over the dam. There are a number of forest service and private campgrounds all the way around the lake.
Tomorrow we head for Ouray, driving the Million Dollar Highway. Hans is confident about the drive despite the mixed reviews we've got about taking a big rig on it...fortunately it's supposed to be better (safer) driving North than South!