Waterdog Reservoir

Round Trip Distance: 2.8 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 9797 - 9998 feet
Cellphone: 0-3 bars
Time: 1 hr. 45 mins.
Trailhead: Jumbo Reservoir
Fee: none
Attractions: Forest, deer, moose

The Waterdog Reservoir Loop is located in the Grand Mesa National Forest near Grand Junction, Colorado. The hike begins at Jumbo Reservoir and follows the Barnes Road to the Waterdog turnoff where it begins a loop that continues past the north side of the reservoir following an old jeep trail until it connects with the Long Slough Road and loops back to the trailhead.

The hike begins by crossing Highway 65 and following the Barnes Road, Forest Road 254. The route from here to Waterdog Reservoir is open to all forms of transportation.

The road gains elevation at a gradual pace as it departs from the highway.

The loop begins at the turnoff to the Waterdog Reservoir at about 0.4 miles where we follow the trail to the right.

The road to the right is 254.2A. It is a little rougher than the Barnes Road. There are several primitive campsites between the turnoff and the parking area at the end of the road.

From the parking area at the end of the road follow the path around the gate that leads to the dam.

It is common to see a few canoes and other motorless watercraft on the reservoir as well as fishermen along the banks.

Continue across the dam and look for the trail on the other side. It tends to get obscured by the trees but be sure to go to your right after crossing the dam and you should have no trouble picking it up. This route is also a Nordic trail that is marked by an occasional blue diamond designating the path.

The forest is thin enough to see deep into the trees where you might be able to spot wildlife browsing or laying around.

A game warden had mentioned that moose are sometimes found in the open meadow near the junction of this trail and the Long Slough Road. This is a short slideshow of a cow moose and her calf that we spotted on another trip through the area. These pictures were taken with a zoom lens that makes us look closer than we actually were. A moose can charge at 35 mph which is a lot faster than you can run. Keep your distance and whatever you do don't come between a cow and her calf and try not to cut off any moose from the route they were on. They are likely to quickly double back the way that they came.

This beaver lodge is in a lake between Waterdog Reservoir and Griffith Lake. We had climbed a hill near the trail to gaze over the surrounding area and spotted it.

Turn left at the Long Slough Road, which is also marked on maps and trail signs as 254.1A, and head back toward Jumbo Lake.

This section of the loop tends to have a few ATVs and jeeps traveling it especially on the weekends.

And if you are going the right direction you will come to the point where the loop began at the Waterdog Reservoir turnoff.

The Waterdog Reservoir Loop is a nice short hike that is easy to get to and doesn't require driving your vehicle off of the pavement. On a hot day in the valley it makes for a good change to drive up to the Grand Mesa where the temperatures are often up to 20 degrees cooler and spend the afternoon. The area between Mesa Lakes and the Lake of the Woods area are the places where you have a decent chance of seeing moose. The key is probably that you need to come back often and spend some time hiking the various trails. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.