Blue Creek

Round Trip Distance: 10.6 miles
Difficulty: Strenuous
MTB Skill level:
Elevation: 7211 - 8966 feet
Cellphone: 0 bars
Time: 4 hrs. 30 mins.
Trailhead: Blue Creek
Fee: none
Attractions: Forest hike, deer, bears

The Blue Creek trail is located in the Plateau Division of the Uncompahgre National Forest near Grand Junction, Colorado. The trail begins off of the Divide Road where it descends the main drainage of Blue Creek for a little over 5 miles. The trail comes to an end in a grove of cottonwood trees at a junction with the Leonard's Ridge and Mailbox trails. Enroute the trail is connected to by the Ground Bunch trail that leads up to Bug Point.

The Blue Creek trailhead sits right off of Divide Road. To get there drive west for 14.2 miles on Highway 141 from its junction with with Highway 50 near Whitewater, Colorado. Turn left onto Divide Road and continue for another 22.4 miles, crossing a cattleguard at the forest boundary after about 6 miles, passing the turnoff for the Uranium Road just before 15 miles and the Dominguez Road, FR #408, near the 22 mile point. The Blue Creek trailhead is on the right hand, or west, side of the road about 4 tenths of a mile past the major junction of the Divide Road and FR #408, which is the Dominguez Road (not to be confused with the Dominguez Campground Road which was back at mile 5.5).

The Blue Creek trail starts out by following the fenceline for a quarter mile or so before turning sharply to the left where it begins descending towards the Blue Creek drainage.

We had just reached an area of willows around the creek when we came upon a mother bear and her 2 little cubs. We kept our distance, bear spray at the ready, while she let us know that she thought we were plenty close enough by rocking side to side in the middle of the trail giving us the old evil eye. After assessing the situation she retreated off through the willows with her cubs close behind. We gave her a few moments before we continued down the trail. For those that have never used bear spray you point it away from you and squeeze the trigger. We carry the large can which emits a cloud of spray for about 30 feet. The idea is for the bear to run into the cloud of spray as it comes toward you. After breathing in the irritant it should retreat giving you the time to do so also. They say that bear spray is much more effective than a gun and in this case the cubs won't lose their mother just because they happened upon a hiker.

Once the trail begins following the creek it continues downstream where the trees fluctuate between dark stands of spruce, an occasional ponderosa pine and groves of aspens.

Near the 1.5 mile point there are a couple of beaver lodges surrounded by a small slough. The Blue Creek trail continues on the other side of the lodges. How far around the slough you have to hike to keep going will depend upon how wet it is and/or how much black murky mud you are willing to tolerate. Unless of course you want to show off your log walking skills and take the more direct approach.

Roughly near the 2 mile point the trail appears to turn right away from the creek. To stay on the correct route look for the big log in this photo that they are using for a trail marker. If you don't see the log it may have fallen over so stay to the left until you pick up the well worn trail again. The wrong trail goes to the right while the correct trail continues down the creek.

A trail junction comes up near the ~2.8 mile point. This is where the Ground Bunch trail branches off on the right. The brush was real thick, obscuring both trails, on the day that we took this photo. Both trails become more evident just past the brush and the Ground Bunch trail is marked with a sign of its own although the sign is rotting out and about to fall off its post.

As the Blue Creek trail continues down the valley the south facing slope that the trail is on changes as the trees begin giving way to oakbrush. In this photo we were able to see over the tops of the brush and get a glimpse of the La Sal Mountains near Moab, Utah.

There is a half mile stretch that comes up where the brush is crowding out the trail. When we finished we met someone at the trailhead that was heading down with a pair of shears. That is something that probably has to be done every couple of years or so.

Near its end the trail levels off and passes through a large grove of cottonwood trees. It comes to an end at a 3-way junction where the Leonard's Ridge trail comes in from the left and the Mailbox trail from the right. The Mailbox trail is a double track that is open to ATV's that are 50 inches or less wide. Leonard's Ridge is a single track that is open to dirt bikes. Hikers, backpackers and horseback riders are the only ones that can use all 3 trails.

For this post we hiked the Blue Creek trail. Mountain biking it would be challenging at best largely depending upon the current state of trail maintenance. There are some good options for backpacking and bikepacking in the Blue Creek area with all of the various interconnecting trails. Besides the bears that we saw there was also a lot of fresh bear and mountain lion scat the full length of the trail. For those looking for a forest hike that will get you away from the summer heat the Blue Creek trail is a great place to go. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.