Hubbard Canyon

Round Trip Distance: 6.6 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation: 6367 - 6863 feet
Cellphone: 0 bars
Time: 3 hrs. 30 mins.
Trailhead: Hubbard Canyon
Fee: none
Attractions: Forest hike, Scenic canyon and creek

The Hubbard Canyon trail is located in the Gunnison National Forest near Paonia, Colorado. The trail begins on Forest Road #704 and continues up the canyon to the northern Forest Service boundary. Horseback travel isn't recommended on this trail due to several sections that have suffered from rock slides and erosion.

To get to the trailhead drive about 3 miles east of Paonia on Highway 133 and turn left on the Bowie Road. Continue for almost 2 miles to the Hubbard Creek Road, a.k.a. Road 4405 or Forest Road 704. Follow the road along Hubbard Creek for about 2.5 miles to the first trailhead which is across the road from a corral. A Forest Service sign at this point marks the official beginning of the trail.

Hike along the road or continue driving a short distance to a better starting location at the Stock Trailer trailhead and last turnaround point.

From here the trail continues following the now deteriorating road into the canyon. There are several warning signs as you leave the Stock Trailer trailhead that caution against driving any further due to underground mining activities beneath the road that may result in cave-ins. One of the signs indicates that the trail is closed from July 17th through October 1st due to extreme rock fall risk but it is unclear whether that refers to vehicle traffic, hiking or both.

The road through the mining area eventually becomes impassible to anything other that foot traffic.

From here the trail varies from very easy to hike sections to areas that are overgrown with vegetation but still easy enough to get through.

At one time a road traveled the full length of the canyon but much of it has since washed out or been buried.

Several spots require you to climb up and around the hillside to get around obstacles.

After a little over 3 miles the trail comes to one particular spot where the hillside has sloughed into the creek. The trail is so hard packed and sloped that it is almost impossible to cross without sliding off of the side of the hill. After falling several times we decided this was a good spot to turn around even though there was almost another mile to go to the end of the trail. If we ever come this way again we will be sure to bring the geopick so we can do a little trail maintenance and make this spot safer and easier to negotiate. It wouldn't hurt to bring a pair of clippers to trim a few bushes either.

Hubbard Canyon by itself is very peaceful and very pretty with a colorful variety of trees, wildflowers and brush. It is a little reminiscent of the Grizzly Creek and No Name trails in Glenwood Canyon minus the crowds of course. The canyon bottom has a very subtle elevation change so the creek runs through without any real waterfalls. With a little trail maintenance this could become a premier hike.

The large variety of butterflies, which included these Tiger Swallowtails, along Hubbard Creek is a little surprising.

The creek makes just enough background noise that you may discover you tend to get a little closer to the wildlife before they run away than in most other places.

We hiked the Hubbard Canyon trail on a recommendation from a colleague and it is very easy to see what they found that was so appealing to them. In a less remote location where local people are more concerned with attracting tourism this trail would surely be more developed and better maintained. But then it would also be busier and lose all of the solitude that it currently has. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.