Thursday, July 1, 2010

Woods Canyon Pueblo on the Rim

The south segment of the Woods Canyon Trail arrives at the base of large Ancestral Pueblo ruins site in Woods Canyon in Canyons of the Ancients National Monument in southwest Colorado. This trail starts west of the town of Yellow Jacket on County Road U west of County Road 14 in front of a small industrial facility.

There are many rubble pile ruins on the canyon slope and some intact wall sections in the sheltered area just below the canyon rim. On this hike I was trying to find a route to the rim, above the sheltered area.

From below, there are some structures visible above the rim, but steep cliffs prevent easy access to the mesa top area. I looked to the left or west side of the large site for a route up to the rim. It took me 0:45 minutes to arrive at the base of the site from the trailhead and another 0:30 minutes to find a way to the mesa top ruins area.

There are several large rubble pile structures up above and they are all very close to the rim, with broad views over Woods Canyon and Sleeping Ute Mountain visible in the distance.

There is one good section of wall still standing. This looks like the back wall of a square structure and this is the one that can be spotted easily from below. The old road that acts as the Woods Canyon Trail leading to the site is clearly visible down below.
On the return hike I stayed closer to the edge of the rim and found a shorter route down, than the way I came up, that connects to a trail that visits the several small sites that are just below the rim. From below the rim, this trail winds left around a cliff corner and there are some rocks arranged that have been secured with a T post to aid in the climb up or down. This vague trail leads past the small room block that is on the left or west side of the overall site.

There are a couple of more small structures along the under the rim trail and eventually the trail leads to the larger wall sections that catch most of the attention. From this side of the site, there are some cow trails to look for that make the descent a little easier than from below the larger wall sections.

The approach from the left side also allows a close view the three large boulder based structures that are near the bottom of the canyon slope. My total hike took 4:00 hours for about 5 miles on an early July morning. The temperature at 9:00 AM was about 65 F degrees and it was about 85 F degrees at 1:00 PM when I finished. I carried and drank 3 liters of water.

On this hike I knew where the site was when I started and didn’t spend any time searching, as is often the case. There is a lot to see at this large site.

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