Friday, May 13, 2011

Woods Canyon East Rim Road-South

A hiking access for Woods Canyon in the Canyons of the Ancients is located in front of a carbon dioxide gas plant at the corner of County Road U and County Road 14. This area is west of the community of Yellow Jacket in southwest Colorado. From Highway 491, turn west on Road Y and south on Road 15.

About 0.2 miles south of Roads U and 14, a well maintained gravel road turns west and leads south for 6 miles along the east rim of Woods Canyon, eventually reaching an overlook point of the junction of Sandstone Canyon and Yellowjacket Canyon.

About 1.1 miles along this road, there is a vague side road near one of the gas wells that leads to a view point of the large Woods Canyon Pueblo Ruins site. I noticed a cow trail leading down into the canyon at this view point, which might provide an easy hiking route to the canyon bottom.

I continued driving for a total of 2.5 miles to another drill site that was on the edge of a hill top just before the road started a downhill segment, and began hiking south along the mesa top through the Pinon and Juniper forest.  The canyon rim area was easy to walk along and there were frequent view points across Woods Canyon.
The mesa top area is narrow and there were also good view points to the east across a side canyon of Yellowjacket Canyon. I did a lot of scanning with binoculars, but only sighted the Woods Canyon Pueblo and the square tower ruin site that I have seen before. My 3 mile round trip hike took 2:20 hours and I returned to my starting point.

Near where I parked, there is a dirt side road, and I hiked over to see if there was a rim view point near this road. I was surprised to come across a large mesa top ruins site only a few minutes down this trail.

This site is overgrown with sagebrush and trees, but seems to be relatively large. Many of the collapsed structures appeared to be circular, some large and some small. 

In a couple of places, some wall sections are still intact. There were several bare earth places where pottery shards were visible.
The location of these sites is usually interesting. Residents here could probably see the Woods Canyon Pueblo site and visit there easily.
This large village site is close to steep cliffs that can be viewed by driving a short distance down the road to another side road. These cliffs overlook the side canyon that connects to Yellowjacket Canyon. After hiking, I drove the rest of the gravel road and stopped at several view points. There are good views of Yellowjacket Canyon and lower Sandstone Canyon. (On a later hike I found an alcove ruins site about 1 mile north of the mesa top site.)

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