Bull Basin

Round Trip Distance: 12-13 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation: 9639 - 10,003 feet
Cellphone: 0-4 bars
Time: 5 hrs.
Trailhead: Jumbo Reservoir
Fee: none
Attractions: Forest hike, deer

The Bull Basin Trail #507 is in the Grand Mesa National Forest near Grand Junction, Colorado. The trail stretches between Highway 65, near Mesa Lakes, and Forest Road 121, near Bonham Reservoir, south of the town of Collbran. This post follows the portion of the trail that traces the Long Slough Road, FR #254.1A, for 6 miles to Bull Creek Reservoir Number 5 which is the turnaround point for this outing.

The hike begins on the east side of Highway 65 across from Jumbo Reservoir. The first section of the trail is the Barnes Road which is labeled as FR 254. At one time this section of road was part of the Old Grand Mesa Road, the first road up the north side of the Grand Mesa.

Follow FR 254 for one half mile to the beginning of FR 254.1A which splits off on the right. FR 254 only continues for about another half mile, as shown on the map, before it comes to an end. There are several camping spots on the west side of the road. If a person wanted to begin hiking from here the road is generally passable for cars but not any further than this point. An ATV or high clearance 4x4 can travel the full length of this trail but it gets pretty rough in places after the first 5 miles.

The surrounding landscape varies between stands of aspen, spruce, open meadows and combinations of all three. Deer and the elusive Grand Mesa moose can be seen at times and it is possible to also encounter a black bear.

The elevation of the trail fluctuates to the point that the overall elevation change is around 1400 feet. The overall grade is gentle enough that most of the hills only require a moderate amount of effort.

After a couple miles of hiking the trail crosses Coon Creek. Coon Creek is lined with a thick protection of willows and other bushes. Deer, elk and moose prefer eating tender leaves from bushes over grazing on grass so as you approach the area you might pause for a moment and look it over for game. As the trail rises out of the Coon Creek drainage it passes the Crum Reservoir trailhead on the left. The next mile or so of the trail is very much out in the open and appears like a large rolling hills meadowland.

Another road branches off on the left just before you get to Long Slough Reservoir. It will rejoin the trail once again in a couple of miles. Long Slough Reservoir is in a peaceful setting with trees lining its south and western shores and several primitive campsites to choose from.

The trail gets decidedly rougher after passing the Long Slough Reservoir. Any vehicles that continue past this point will need to have high clearance. After passing through the green gate the trail starts dropping elevation and if you are driving you might need a good 4-wheel drive to get back out. After hiking this trail we came back and drove it with a jeep with no problems and had fun doing it. Something larger like a pickup truck might have a tougher time in a few spots.

The Bull Creek Cutoff trail comes up on the right after about 4.5 miles. The Cutoff trail leads over to the Lake of the Woods trail which connects up with the Cottonwood trail which can actually get you back to this trail. Some of you might be thinking that all of these interconnecting trails open up possible backpacking adventures and you would be exactly right.

At the base of Bull Creek Reservoir Number 3 you will have to cross a branch of Bull Creek which is usually running a lot of water. Before you jump in and get your feet all wet look to your right toward the dam and you will find a nice sturdy foot bridge.

Bull Creek Reservoir Number 5 comes up at about the 6 mile point of the hike.

Bull Creek Number 5 is a pretty big reservoir. It is hard to judge just how deep it is having never seen it drained. There was some bear scat near the shore but with all the recent rains it was hard to tell how fresh it was. This is the turnaround point for this post.

We had followed the Barnes Road to its end to check out the possibility of hiking down the Old Grand Mesa Road to where it comes out near the Ambush trail so that added about 1 mile to our total distance. Most people that use the trail that we just hiked are going to be doing it on horseback or an ATV. It is a very enjoyable hike though that covers a lot of ground. If you are worried about mosquitoes then wait until after the middle of August when they have mostly died off. We carried a can of bug spray with us but never had any reason to use it even around the water. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.