Pine Creek

Rating: 
Round Trip Distance: 2.4 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation: 7108 - 7366 feet
Cellphone: 0 bars
Usage: Hiking - Biking - Equestrian - Dogs
Time: 1 hr. 15 mins.
Facilities: Vault toilet
Trailhead: Pine Creek
Fee: none
Attractions: Scenic canyon, fishing, boat tour
 


View Pine Creek in a larger map

The Pine Creek trail is located in the Curecanti National Recreation Area near Gunnison, Colorado. The trail descends a series of wooden stairs and rock steps to the level of the Gunnison River and the backwaters of the Morrow Point Reservoir in the close confines of the Black Canyon below the Blue Mesa Reservoir dam. The trail follows the old narrow gauge railroad bed that was later converted into a road. Near the end of the trail is the boat dock for the Morrow Point Reservoir boat tours.


The turnoff for the Pine Creek trailhead is about 1 mile west of the junction of Highway 50 and 92. There is a very large brown Park Service sign marking the spot. After turning off of Highway 50 drive down a fairly steep gravel road to the parking area passing a trailer dropoff lot along the way.


From the parking area the trail descends 180 feet alongside Pine Creek. The little side canyon the creek makes its plunge through is very picturesque making all the steps much more pleasant than they would otherwise be. Several benches are strategically placed for anyone needing a rest on the climb out.


This is a bit of information that might be helpful if you are thinking about going on the boat tour. The National Park Service website has the details. Currently the charge is $16/adult and $8/child.


The broad, well packed, trail follows the old narrow gauge railroad and highway. You couldn't ask for a much more tranquil setting for a hike.


Interpretive signs along the trail provide a wealth of interesting information like this quote from Rudyard Kipling who road the trail through the canyon in 1889.


Of course, fishing access to the Gold Medal waters of the Gunnison is available all along the trail. In several areas you will also find sheltered tables for a picnic.


There is another vault toilet at the boat dock. It looks like the tour boat accommodates about 40 passengers.


Several guide boats are also moored along the dock. I'm pretty sure they supply all of the equipment that you will need for a fun time catching lake trout as well as brown and rainbow trout. I'm not sure if Morrow Point has any kokanee salmon or not. Click on the picture and you can get their phone number and ask them yourself.


The trail continues for about a quarter mile past the boat dock. For this post we had to turn around about 100 yards from the end. We waited about 5 minutes for these geese and their goslings to either go in the water or get out of the way but the longer we waited the more they seemed to get used to our presence. We decided to call it good enough before they wanted us to pet them.


Back at the trailhead there were 3 or 4 elk coming down the side of the mountain browsing on the tender Fendlerbush, currents and mountain mahogany leaves.


While a vulture watched everything from above.


The Pine Creek trail is a hike with multiple opportunities ranging from hiking, fishing, picnicking to a short cruise on the Morrow Point Reservoir in the Black Canyon. It is also interesting to consider the tenacity of those that built the narrow gauge railroad through the canyon to Cimarron. They worked at it year round and if you have ever spent much time around Gunnison, Colorado in the winter time then you know that quite often the temperatures are as much as 25 degrees fahrenheit below zero. The Pine Creek trail is a must do for any hikers that happen to be in the area. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.