Glacier Springs/Deep Creek Loop

Round Trip Distance: 3.7 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation: 9755 - 10,093 feet
Cellphone: 0-3 bars
Time: 2 hrs. 30 mins.
Trailhead: Jumbo Reservoir
Fee: none
Attractions: Scenic winter setting

The Glacier Springs Cutoff trail is located in the Mesa Lakes area of the Grand Mesa National Forest near Grand Junction, Colorado. The Glacier Springs trail is popular in the wintertime with both snowshoers and cross country skiers. This post combines the trail with the lower section of the Deep Creek trail and the Mesa Creek trail to form a fun forest loop. Most people turn around at the end of the Glacier Springs trail which is highly advisable for those that are unfamiliar with the area if there are no good tracks to follow. The round trip distance remains about the same whether you do an out and back or complete the loop.

Trails in the Mesa Lakes area begin at the Jumbo Reservoir parking area in the wintertime. The only alternative is to park at the Mesa Lakes Lodge which is what we will do occasionally if we are planning to go in for a bowl of chili or a cup of hot coffee afterwards.

For this post we began by following the route for the West Bench trail.

The loop begins at the point where the road to the Ranger Station breaks off on the right. That is the way we will be coming from on the return trip. From here stay to the left and begin following the road around the east side of Sunset Lake heading toward the Glacier Springs trailhead. The map will come in handy if you aren't familiar with the area.

The Glacier Springs trailhead is about 1 mile from the Jumbo Reservoir parking area.

From the Glacier Springs trailhead follow the trail just below the dam to the beginning of the Glacier Springs Cutoff trail. The distance is only about 1 tenth of a mile.

Other than the sign at the beginning of the trail there aren't any trail markers to point the way but the route is pretty obvious nonetheless. As long as the wind isn't blowing snow and covering your tracks it is pretty easy to turn around and trace your route back to the trailhead. The trail is pretty popular though so there will probably be a good path to follow.

The Glacier Springs Cutoff trail ends at its junction with the Deep Creek trail right at the 1.9 mile point from the Jumbo Reservoir trailhead. This is the spot where most people turnaround and head back. If there aren't any tracks to follow on the Deep Creek trail that are heading to the right, or north, then it could be pretty hard to find your way from here if you aren't very familiar with the area.

Unlike the Glacier Springs Cutoff trail the Deep Creek trail is marked with 6 inch brown and white diamond shaped markers on the trees. If you aren't seeing any of these every quarter mile or so then you are probably not on the trail. Even with the markers the trail is harder to follow than the Glacier Springs Cutoff.

The Deep Creek trail makes a steady decline in elevation all the way to where it ends at the Summer Homes Road.

For this post we went to the left at the Summer Homes Road and followed it to the West Bench trail. There isn't a sign at this point for the Summer Homes Road but you will know you are there when you reach all the cabins.

For this post we followed the West Bench trail to the Mesa Creek trail which comes up at the 3 mile point.

The Mesa Creek trail is short in length but the one caveat about going this way is that the trail makes a steep drop down the embankment to the footbridge over the creek. It might be a little treacherous under certain conditions but the scenery is hard to beat. An alternative route would be to follow the West Bench trail instead.

After crossing Mesa Creek the trail comes out behind the Ranger Station where the road provides an easy route to follow.

The loop ends right where it began where we follow the West Bench trail the rest of the way back to the trailhead.

Snowshoeing and cross country skiing are good wintertime hiking alternatives. The Grand Mesa has enough different places to explore to keep a person from getting bored. We suggest staying on well established trails and being prepared for adverse conditions like extreme cold, high winds and thin ice on the lakes. High winds can cause white out conditions even on a clear day. People have gotten lost up here and even died. We mention this mostly because it isn't hard to imagine someone getting lost on the Deep Creek portion of this post. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.