Arch Slough Nordic

Round Trip Distance: 3.2k/2 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
XC Skill level:
Elevation: 10,208 - 10,328 feet
Cellphone: 0-1 bars
Time: 1 hr. 30 mins.
Trailhead: Grand Mesa Visitor Center
Fee: none
Attractions: Marked ungroomed Nordic trail

The Arch Nordic trail is located on the south side of the Grand Mesa near the Visitor Center. The latest map of the Grand Mesa Nordic Council lists the trail as a 'snowshoeing trail'. The trail probably gets as much use, or more, from cross country skiers as it does from snowshoers.

The Arch Nordic trail begins across the road from the Grand Mesa Visitor Center. The exact starting point of the trail isn't at all apparent at first but if you make your way behind the Forest Service kiosk and begin working your way through the trees to your right you should be able to spot one of the blue diamond trail markers that will lead you on your way.

The first section of the trail is shared with snowmobiles. It travels along a wide swath that is cut through the trees and follows just above the east shoreline of Cobbett/Carp Lake.

The trail comes to its first fork when it gets to the Carp Lake campground. There is an obvious marker on one of the trees for the Ward trail that forms the south side of the Arch Nordic loop. If you would like to travel around the loop in the clockwise direction the trail markers aren't as obvious at first but if you continue on the road through the campground until you break out of the trees you will be in the open between Cobbett Lake and Arch Slough. Follow the trees line to the east, your right, and continue around the south shore of Arch Slough for about a half mile until you see a blue diamond trail marker that points the way through the trees.

This post describes taking a right, at the junction, and following the Ward trail. The Ward trail gains just over 100 feet as it climbs the hill through the trees.

When the trail gets to the power line veer to the right and continue up the hill.

There aren't anymore trail markers until you near the crest of the hill where there is a marker that directs you to leave the power line trail to the left.

After having traveled right at 3/4 of a mile from the trailhead there is another fork in the trail where you need to go to the left. The Ward trail continues straight ahead and leads down to the Ward Lake Nordic Area trailhead. Going to the left at this point will put you on the Arch Nordic trail.

After going another 1/10 of a mile stay to the left once more. The unmarked trail straight ahead is a shortcut down to Spruce Lodge.

After yet another tenth of a mile there is a major intersection that can be a little confusing at first. The main trail to Spruce Lodge goes to the right. If you go straight ahead you will descend down to the dam of Arch Slough. The Arch Nordic trail goes to the left and isn't marked all that well for traveling in this direction. If you do choose to continue straight ahead to the dam you can still follow the south shoreline with little difficulty until it meets up with the trail once again about halfway to the other end of the slough. You might also consider making a detour over to Spruce Lodge for something warm to drink and maybe a bowl of chili.

Following the Arch trail it is a little ways before you see your first blue diamond. If you look back over your shoulder after going a hundred feet or so you will see one on one of the trees behind you.

The trail breaks out of the trees about halfway along the shore of Arch Slough. There are no more blue diamond trail markers until you get back to the area near the campground. All you have to do though is follow the tree line along the shore for about a half mile.

From the campground it is about a quarter mile back to the trailhead. The sun doesn't get very high in the sky during the winter months and with all the trees this trail stays pretty much in the shade all the way. This picture was taken about 11 am. The nice thing about the trees though is that they block almost all of the wind which can feel a lot colder even when you are in the sun. The Arch Nordic trail is easy to get to on the south side of the mesa and it's great starting out with nice warm restrooms with running water. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.