Mesa Creek

Round Trip Distance: 3.2 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
MTB Skill level:
Elevation: 8837 - 9706 feet
Cellphone: 0 bars
Time: 2 hrs.
Trailhead: Old Powderhorn
Fee: none
Attractions: Forest hike

The Mesa Creek trail is located in the Grand Mesa National Forest near Grand Junction, Colorado. The lower end of the trail begins at the Old Powderhorn trailhead along Highway 65. From there the trail climbs along Mesa Creek, gaining almost 900 feet of elevation, until it comes to an end in the Mesa Lakes area at a junction with the West Bench trail.

To get to the trailhead follow Highway 95 measuring from the town of Mesa, Colorado for about 9.75 miles. The Old Powderhorn trailhead will be on the right where there is a restroom and a large parking area. Old Powderhorn is a popular sledding hill and snowboarding destination during the winter months.

There is a fork in the trail about 100 feet or so from the trailhead. The right fork leads directly to Mesa Creek. Crossing the creek at this point is a little harder but once on the other side route finding is probably easier. Taking the left fork will lead to a bridge crossing.

After taking the left fork the trail travels up the grassy slope and comes to another fork that leads toward the point in the creek where there is a bridge.

The trail gets a little sketchy after taking the last fork as it passes through some aspen trees and basalt boulders before reaching the creek crossing.

After crossing the creek the trail turns left and continues heading up the mountain towards Mesa Lakes.

As the trail climbs the drainage there are one or two trail markers that point out the designated route. For the most part the trail is obvious even with the lush foliage that surrounds it.

The Mesa Creek trail is also open to mountain bikes. At one small stream crossing there is a ramp built on each side for a jump that looks to be 15-20 feet from one ramp to the other. Hikers can easily step across the small stream which is less than a couple of feet wide.

There is another stream crossing that comes up which has a sturdy make shift bridge that looks like it was made from whatever happened to be laying around.

As the trail progresses the groves of aspen trees slowly transition to a dark forest of pine and spruce.

Towards the end of the trail the route widens into a double track. Along the way it passes an old rock foundation where a cabin once stood. As the trail passes the first of two cabins that are still standing there is another trail that branches off on the left that drops down a steep bank and crosses a bridge that spans Mesa Creek. The trail continues on the other side of the creek and comes out near a Ranger Station. Continuing on the main trail past one more cabin the route meets up with the West Bench trail and comes to an end.

The return trip to the lower trailhead can go quickly as it is all downhill. One thing to note about this area of the Grand Mesa is that early in the summer the mosquitoes can be absolutely fierce. Bug spray with DEET works great for keeping them at bay. We recommend that you carry your bug spray with you while hiking though because if you happen to miss a spot the mosquitoes will find it. Toward the end of summer the mosquitoes become less of a problem as the forest dries out and by the time fall arrives they are usually completely gone. That is also a good time for hunting mushrooms and picking thimbleberries that can be found near the lower end of the Mesa Creek trail. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.