Little Dolores

Round Trip Distance: 3-3.6 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 8512 - 8944 feet
Cellphone: 2-5 bars
Time: 1 hr. 20 mins.
Trailhead: Little Dolores
Fee: none
Attractions: Forest hike, deer

The Little Dolores trail is located in the Fruita Division of the Grand Mesa National Forest, in the Pinon Mesa area above Glade Park, near Grand Junction, Colorado. From the trailhead the route follows the ridge for 1.6 miles to the Forest Service boundary fence. Haypress Creek runs down the canyon on the east side of the ridge and the Little Dolores River runs down the canyon to the west.

Google Maps seems to want to pick the long way around Glade Park to get to the trailhead. The easiest route is to turn south at the Glade Park store on 16 1/2 Road. The pavement ends after 2.6 miles and you pass the Mud Springs Campground at 6.4 miles. Take the right fork at 7.6 miles and continue on 16 1/2 Road. Pay attention when you get to the Forest Service boundary sign, which should be close to 9.2 miles from the Glade Park store. Begin measuring again from this point. Continue past Fruita Reservoir #1, Fruita Reservoir #2, the Turkey Flats trailhead, the Haypress Campground (which isn't much more than a restroom in a clearing on the right side of the road), and Fruita Reservoir #3 (which doesn't have a sign but you can tell you are driving by a dam). From Fruita Reservoir #3 it is about another 7 tenths of a mile to the turnoff for a total of about 2.8 miles from the Forest Service boundary. The turnoff is an unmarked double track at a bend in the road that leads to the parking area within about 100 yards. The trailhead is accessible to passenger cars during dry weather.

The double track trail heads south across a grassy bench where it continues almost in a beeline toward the forest boundary.

The hiking is easy and pleasant with distant views overlooking Glade Park and the Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness Area with the Book Cliff mountains around Douglas and Baxter passes in the background.

With no trespassing signs on about every 50 feet of the fence it becomes obvious that this is the end of the trail.

While hiking down the ridge to this point you can't really see into the canyons on either side of the trail so to alleviate that frustration we followed the trail along the fence to get a glimpse into Haypress Canyon. Whether that is the canyons name or not that was what we were calling it since none of our maps had anything to say about it. If you decide to do the same it is only about 100 yards or so. You have to do it on foot because there is an 'Area Closed' sign that says so.

This is a picture heading back of what is probably the steepest part of the trail. As you can see it doesn't really amount to much.

Near the top of the trail the aspens come close enough to where you are hiking for easy inspection.

There were actually fresh deer tracks on the trail and we caught a glimpse of a fawn entering the trees. The telephoto lens makes it appear we are a lot closer than we really were. If we had tried to get closer I'm sure they would have been long gone before we snapped a single photo.

There isn't a lot to the Little Dolores trail but it is an easy hike and the drive is very nice. To make a fuller day of it you might consider stopping at Fruita Reservoir #2 or perhaps have lunch at the picnic area at the Fruita Reservoir #1 turnoff. You can also continue on up the mountain and take 9 8/10 Road back down to Glade Park. That is the route that Google Maps picks to get to the trailhead. Also, if you have never hiked the Turkey Flats trail we highly recommend it as one of the finest hikes in the area. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.