Sunday, May 2, 2010

Burro Canyon North Rim Trail

The Burro Canyon North Rim Trail is the one lane gravel road that makes a junction with County Road N 0.6 miles west of Canyon of the Ancients entrance sign. This entrance is 1.2 miles west of the north trailhead for the popular Sand Canyon Trail northwest of Cortez in southwest Colorado. (In spring of 2012 there is some new gas well activity along this road that probably restricts access by vehicles until the activity is complete.)

The gravel road runs about 3.5 miles west to a lookout point facing the junction of Burro Canyon and Yellowjacket Canyon. There are several dirt side roads along the way. The first 2 miles or so pass through mesa top Pinon Pine and Utah Juniper forest with patches of sagebrush without any wide views.

This area has some carbon dioxide gas well development with some of the facilities visible in the distance. The hiking is easy on the mostly level gravel road.

After about 1.2 miles or so I turned south on one of the side roads that had a old fence on the east side. This road went about 100 yards south, then turned west and ran parallel to the main gravel road for about 1 mile.

Along this side road there is a mesa top ruins site that is visible as rubble mounds. There are several large mounds with a depression between the mounds. The side dirt road loops back to make a junction with the main gravel road.

Past the junction the road is closer to the canyon rims on both the north and south and the views are better. The south facing cliffs looked like good locations for ruins sites but I didn’t spot anything. The cliffs in this area have many joints and gaps between them.

The road continues out to a point with good views toward the canyon junctions to the west. On the return hike I tried to follow cow trails back to the east that were closer to the south facing rim and pass through a different section of mesa top. It seems like there should be more ruins sites in this area, but I didn’t spot any.

I did see some isolated pottery shards, one with some black on white design. I was able to spot the boulder top lookout point ruins site across the canyon that I had visited on a previous Burro Canyon south rim hike, but didn’t see any others this time. The boulder top site stood out even though it was about 0.5 miles away. My total hike took 3:30 hours for about 7 miles on a 50 F degree early May day. I carried and drank 2 liters of water. (There are more ruins sites in this area. I just didn't find them on this hike.)

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