Curecanti Creek

Round Trip Distance: 4 miles
Difficulty: Strenuous
Elevation: 7143 - 8033 feet
Cellphone: 0-3 bars
Time: 2 hrs.
Trailhead: Pioneer Point Overlook
Fee: none
Attractions: Scenic canyon trail, waterfalls

The Curecanti Creek trail is located in the Curecanti National Recreation Area between Gunnison and Crawford, Colorado. The trail descends about 900 feet from the Pioneer Point Overlook to the shores of the Gunnison River and backwaters of the Morrow Point Reservoir. The narrow gorge of black granite is awe inspiring to gaze into from the overlook. Hikers with the stamina and fortitude to venture into its depths get to feel part of canyon and experience it like others can only imagine.

The Pioneer Point Overlook is located along Highway 92 about 36 miles from Crawford, 32 miles from Gunnison or 5.7 miles from the junction of Highways 92 and 50 near the Blue Mesa Reservoir.

The hike begins as a leisurely stroll along the rim heading north above the canyon and Curecanti Creek.

After a short distance you begin getting glimpses of the trail descending before you into the canyon.

Just over 1 mile from the trailhead you come to a bridge that crosses the creek. At this point you have descended a little less than half of the hikes elevation change but covered all but about 8 tenths of a mile of the total one-way distance. That means there are a few steeper sections of trail waiting ahead of you. There were no signs at the trailhead that said no horses but since there are several bridges on this trail equestrians might want to find out what their capacity is before attempting to cross them.

For the rest of the way the trail is much more rocky and follows the creek but not always right next to it.

The first of two campsites sits in a small meadow within about a quarter mile of the first bridge.

Another big bridge comes up near the bottom of the trail. This bridge has a metal staircase at each end to transition from the trail to the bridge. We just mention that once again for anyone thinking of bringing a horse this far.

The second campsite sits right on the side of the trail near the very end. Just past this campsite is a vault toilet. This campsite has a bear box for storing your food, soap and toothpaste. Not quite sure if the other campsite was equipped with a bear box or not.

Where the trail ends depends upon how full Morrow Point Reservoir is. The Curecanti Needle is through the opening in the picture and to the right. This picture is actually showing the lower eastern flank of the granite pinnacle. To see the top of the spire one would need to hike just a bit further.

One of the most awesome spectacles is to look up at the Pioneer Point Overlook from the Curecanti Creek trail. That is one impressive mass of rock.

We had the safety off the bear spray for this hike but we didn't have any encounters. Bears normally run away as soon as they see or hear you. Curecanti Creek is almost one continuous waterfall as it plunges through the canyon so for much of the time it is loud enough that you can't hear other hikers or bears until you are right upon them.

Looking down from Pioneer Point Overlook you can see the little beach where the trail ended at the waters edge.

When some people see a mountain they are compelled with the urge to climb it and begin looking for different routes to the summit. The same seems to hold true in the other direction also. The Curecanti National Recreation Area has about 4 hikes that take you down to the waters edge. The Black Canyons of the Gunnison National Park has more than that and the Gunnison Gorge NCA and Wilderness does also. It seems a little surprising that there are that many trails into such a rugged place. The Curecanti Creek trail is one of the best trails of all of them. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.