Blue Heron Marsh

One-way Distance: 0.6 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Skill level:
Elevation: 4626 - 4700 feet
Cellphone: 0-3 bars
Time: 30 mins.
Trailhead: Highline Lake Dam
Fee: $7/vehicle
Attractions: Wildlife, ponds

The Blue Heron Marsh trail is located in the Highline Lake State Park west of Grand Junction, Colorado. The trail begins on the east side of the Highline Lake dam where it descends to the area below the spillway, crosses the stream, and climbs back up the terrain to the west side of the dam. The area below the spillway has several small ponds surrounded by cattails, sagebrush and reed grass. Various birds, as well as mule deer, can be spotted in the marsh from time to time. The Blue Heron Marsh trail also serves as part of the 18 Hours of Fruita trail that is part of an annual mountain bike race held every year during the Fruita Fat Tire Festival.

To find the eastern end of the trail make your way through the camping and picnic areas to the dam. Look for a trail on the left before crossing the dam. A brown mylar trail marker has a sticker on it for the Blue Heron Marsh.

The trail descends several switchbacks to get to the area below the dam.

At the bottom of the hill the trail spills out onto a service road which it follows toward the spillway. Before getting to the spillway watch for the singletrack trail that leaves the road and begins following the stream.

The native environment is very dry and parched with the only growth being sage, greasewood and an assortment of other stubble.

Water coming from Highline Lake, which is actually a manmade reservoir, has created a narrow riparian environment along the course of the stream where cottonwoods and plant life common to marshes have taken hold.

The trail crosses the creek near the parks southern boundary and begins climbing back toward the dam along the west side of the stream.

On this day all the blue heron were above the dam along the shores of the lake. They can be spotted down here at times as well as other birds and even some deer. We have watched the blue heron in the past around the lake catch fish that were bigger than what we were catching. Blue Heron aren't really picky eaters. They are also known to eat prairie dogs and other small rodents.

After climbing back up the hill from the marsh the trail comes to an end at the West Entrance Road at the same point that the Highline Lake Loop branches off of the road to cross the dam.

The portion of the Highline Lake Loop that crosses the dam can be used to create a loop out of the Blue Heron Marsh trail and convey you back to where you began. From the vantage point of the dam you can survey the course of your travels in a glance. The Blue Heron Marsh trail is open to both hiking and mountain biking. For this post we chose to hike the trail. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is grab your bike or 'Take a hike'.