Spring Creek

Round Trip Distance: 9.6-13 miles
Difficulty: Strenuous
Elevation: 5004 - 6640 feet
Cellphone: 0-2 bars
Time: 5 hrs. 30 mins.
Trailhead: Coal Canyon
Fee: none
Attractions: Wild horses, bighorn sheep

The Spring Creek trail is located in the BLM Little Book Cliffs Wilderness Study and Wild Horse & Burro Management Area near Grand Junction, Colorado. The trail begins off of the Main Canyon trail at the mouth of Spring Creek Canyon. From there it climbs through the canyon to a ridge where it meets up with the Crazy Ed and Hoodoo trails. Backpackers and horseback riders sometimes combine the Spring Creek trail with the Main Canyon, Hoodoo and Coal Canyon trails to create a ~14 mile loop.

To get to the Coal Canyon trailhead take Exit 46 off of Interstate 70 in DeBeque Canyon and following the road across the river and up the canyon for about 2.4 miles.

Follow the Main Canyon trail for about 1.5 miles to the mouth of Spring Creek Canyon.

As the trail starts out it is generally okay to either follow the wash or take one of the side trails that cut through the sagebrush. Once the trail gets to where the canyon splits it is important to always follow the trail when it leaves the wash.

There are a few hoodoos in the canyon but none of them are quite as memorable as this one.

The canyon splits near the 1 mile point from the Main Canyon trail. Keep an eye out for a marker on the left side of the wash. The trail gets out of the wash at this point and heads up the branch of the canyon on the left. From the wash there doesn't look like there is a trail here but if you get up on the bank and look you should see another marker that points out the correct route.

The trail follows the wash of the left canyon for a short distance, passing a memorial plaque for Eldon Manry, before leaving the wash on the lefthand side and beginning a steep climb.

To avoid all of the spillovers and boulders that clog the basement of the canyon the trail climbs up the side of the mountain as it continues to work its way into the canyon.

After climbing a steep section of loose dirt and rocks a fork comes up near the 3 mile point. The intersection is a little confusing but what you want to do is to follow the trail to the right. The arrow on the marker is pointing to the left but it is meant to get those that are coming down the trail to not go straight at this point. The trail to the left is the better looking route to take but it won't get you to the Crazy Ed and Hoodoo junction. It does lead to a horse trough at a spring within less that a half mile, if memory serves me right, that should have water in it.

Continuing along the trail to the right it is quite some distance before another trail marker comes up. The one in this photo is about 3/4 of a mile away in a patch of sagebrush. The trail can be a little hard to follow through here as the wild horses tend to go every which way creating all kinds of side trails. The trail markers become a little more frequent so you shouldn't have to go too far before seeing another one.

Eventually the trail reaches a ridge where you can look out over the backside of Mount Garfield. From there the trail turns west along the ridge for the last mile. At times the trail is below the ridge and at other times it is behind it once again.

The last stretch of trail crosses some white sandstone slickrock and if you followed the cairns correctly you will be led to a sign where the 3 trails come together. We've never figured out what the Bouse Trailhead is that the sign says is 3.5 miles away and we have been in pretty much every nook and cranny around here. Apparently we have missed something somewhere.

As we were hiking out we struggled to take pictures of some wild horses that were on the opposite side of the canyon.

And then near the mouth of the canyon we came upon another small herd that were close enough that we didn't even need a telephoto lens.

When coming back down the trail it is easy to miss that all important trail marker that we pointed out at the 3 mile point because the trail to the spring looks so much better. Once you get back to the mouth of the canyon it is still another mile and a half to the trailhead. Our GPS devices measured the Spring Creek trail at 4.8 miles each way. Tack on the distance to and from the trailhead and it rounds up to 13 miles all together. This is the second time that we have posted the Spring Creek trail. It wasn't marked very well the first time and we ended up off track so this post corrects that. Backpackers should plan on bringing all the water they need rather than taking a chance on Adobe Spring or the one in Spring Creek Canyon. Those are the only 2 water sources other than Jerry Creek in Main Canyon and it is so close to the trailhead that it isn't of much help. We recommend that anyone choosing to hike the full length of the Spring Creek trail become familiar with the slideshow at the end of this post and to take a map along. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.