Friday, March 23, 2012

Burro Canyon south to Moccasin Canyon

The area south of the southwest side of Burro Canyon is part of the Moccasin Canyon drainage in the Canyons of the Ancients in southwest Colorado. An unmarked rough road provides a good hiking trail leading south into this area. 

The trail is 4.8 miles west of the Canyons of the Ancients entrance sign on the west extension of County Road N. This entrance sign is 1.2 miles west of the north trailhead of the popular Sand Canyon Trail.

At this same starting point, there is also a trail into the southwest part of Burro Canyon, marked as Road 4526 on the north side of the main road. The south leading trail descends through Pinon Pine and Juniper forest with good canyon views to the south. This route appears to get some ATV use.

There are several side roads off of this trail. After about 1:00 hour of hiking there is a Y junction that can be used to make a loop hike. I stayed to the left and ended up returning on the right. The terrain changes as the elevation drops with more sagebrush and grassland. The area has a dry look and I didn’t see any sign of seeping water here.
The trail makes the loop turn at the base of a small rocky mesa. Up to this point, I hadn't noticed any Ancestral Pueblo ruins sites and I thought this mesa top would be the most likely place to look before turning back. I was 1:45 hours into my hike when I arrived on the mesa top.

There is a slightly higher hilltop connected to the mesa top. Along the south facing rim of the mesa top are some of the rocky sheltered spots that seem to be often used as building sites, but I didn’t notice anything. The scenery is very dramatic in all directions.

I spent about 1:00 hour looking around on the mesa and hilltop, mostly enjoying the wide views. I saw a place on east end where some rocks were stacked into a low wall but it didn’t look like a ruins site. I didn’t see any pottery shards anywhere along this hike.

To the southwest I think the spires of Monument Valley are visible. The Bears Ears in southeast Utah can be spotted from this high viewpoint.  From the hilltop the other side of the loop trail is visible. It took me 2:20 hours to return to the starting point for a total hike of 5:00 hours for about 6 miles. I hiked on a 56 F degree late March day and carried 2 liters of water.

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