Uncompahgre Plateau Trails: Spring Creek, Dented Door, Forest Fence, Rim Road, Spring Creek Rim

View from Rim Trail

What a view! This panorama is stitched together from three shots. The location is at the viewpoint on Rim Road Trail. The day was perfect and the view went on forever. The road down there is Sanborn Park Road. If you go a bit to the left and then up, that's Lone Cone Mountain

Finally, finally, we had some rain-free days—enough that I wanted to try the trails up on the Uncompahgre Plateau again. This time I entered from Dave Wood Road and traveled part of the Spring Creek Trail, the length of Dented Door Trail, part of Forest Fence Trail, the length of Rim Road Trail (twice!), attempted the other end of Forest Fence Trail, and then headed back up to Dave Wood Road using the Spring Creek Canyon Rim Road. I used as my guide the excellent map provided by Kevin Anderson of Planet Motorsports in Montrose. Shown below is a detail from that map, with a red line with arrows outlining the path I took. I provide my GPS track just below that.
Detail from Kevin's map

Here's the relevant section of Kevin Anderson's map. Green trails are "easy" (ha!), blue trails are intermediate (I stayed away mostly), and pink trails are hard. The orange marks a closed trail, and the yellow lines are the main roads in the area. The red line with arrows represents my general route.

And the GPS track:
GPS track from Uncompahgre Plateau

Here's my GPS track as taken. Note the going and coming error--up to 300 feet! on the Rim Trail. And I was way up high, not down in a canyon. I color-coded sections of the track to indicate which trail I traveled.

Okay, let’s dive in. I had a bit of trouble locating Spring Creek Trail, #116, from the road. I went down the road (which you can see wiggles a bit) and turned south on Spring Creek Canyon Trail. I knew I’d made a mistake, so I backtracked and took what looked like a road less traveled that turned out to be the right one. The westbound section is easy. The northbound section is easy. The descent into the canyon is a stinker! Lots of scree and way steeper than I like. Not knowing what lay beyond my sight line, I essentially crawled down. Now that I know the trail travels pretty much in a straight line, I might have taken it at a higher speed. Once in the canyon, the trail is easy to follow and quite picturesque. Here’s a sample:
View from Spring Creek Trail

Here's a sample view along the Spring Creek Trail. Everything is very green because of all the rain we've received this summer. Note this is a double-track trail.

I met some folks on ATVs who had stopped for a break. They assured me the trail was pretty straightforward from there. What they didn’t tell me about was that the recent rain had created a pretty long mudhole that couldn’t be avoided. My front tire had essentially no traction, so it was a gamble going through. As it was, I almost made it, but then the front wheel slipped out from under me. The bike didn’t go quite all the way over, but I sure got covered with mud, as did the bike! Oh, well, I got out of there and continued on. I had to ford Spring Creek (not too bad) and then was faced with a decision. If I continued, I’d end up in a place with no “easy” route out, so I opted for the “easy” Dented Door Trail, #117. Dented Door is quite steep, but there wasn’t too much scree and I made it up without incident. Dented Door runs its entire length under forest canopy—very pretty. Here’s the sign—I had just come up Dented Door and the sign is what is seen by someone going down Dented Door.
Dented Door sign

Here's the sign at the south end of Dented Door. Note that the distances are from that point heading north. Divide Road is actually not far to the south, so the distance given on the sign is for those traveling down Dented Door, thence continuing west on Spring Creek Trail, and then swinging back to Divide Road.

Well, after I paused for lunch, I thought I’d travel down the 4WD road to Divide Road, but quickly encountered this sign:
Forest Fence sign

I ran across this sign and reference to Kevin's map showed it was easy. It was, not to mention beautiful.

Forest Fence Trail is a single-track trail, meaning on foot, on horseback, or on motorcycle. After the Slanty Bridge Fiasco, I’ve stayed away from single tracks because of how hard it is to get a broken motorcycle out. But this was Saturday, August 14th, and there were other people around, so I headed down the trail. As it was, it was pretty nearly level and decidedly in the beginner+ category. I followed it to a 4WD Forest Service Road and went out to Divide Road, looking for Rim Road Trail, a double-track I traveled last year.
Rim Road Trail sign

Here's the sign along Divide Road for the Rim Road Trail. Go slow because it's easy to drive right past it.

Rim Road Trail is in three parts. On the GPS map you can see that the first part travels pretty much due south. This is a very rough 4WD road but is no problem at all for a motorcycle. Then the trail itself curves to the west, generally following a fence line. About halfway down this there’s a break in the fence. One walks through this. There’s a rock cairn up there (who put it together no one knows) and the views are fantastic. Here I am smiling for the camera:
Dave at Rim Road Trail viewpoint

An ATV rider took this picture for me. The view is spectacular to the south, overlooking Sanborn Park. That thing that looks like it's coming out of my neck is the drinking tube for water that's in the Ogio vest.

I also captured the panorama that’s at the top of this post.
I headed further west and encountered a very odd sign:
Odd sign

Huh? I'm already on Rim Road Trail, and here it tells me the way to continue is—uh—both straight and to the right?

As it turns out (Kevin explained this to me afterward) a logging road had been put in that offered an alternative (that’s the way straight ahead). I followed the straight-ahead route out to Divide Road, then came back in on the “old” road and traveled Rim Road Trail in reverse. You’ll note some coming and going discrepancy on the GPS track. It’s actually about 300 feet, which surprised me because I wasn’t in a canyon but up on a high spot. The moral is you can’t trust your GPS’s own estimate of its error.

From there I traveled down Divide Road (west) and encountered the other end of the Forest Fence Trail. I followed it until I got to the steep, scree-strewn section. I went down this a little ways, only to discover it went down a whole bunch more. Fortunately I was in a place where I could turn around easily.

Thence to Divide Road and up the Spring Creek Canyon Rim Road, which is a popular 4WD road, and home.

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2 Responses to Uncompahgre Plateau Trails: Spring Creek, Dented Door, Forest Fence, Rim Road, Spring Creek Rim

  1. Alan Talbert says:

    Is it still possible to drive the Dave Wood Road from Montrose to Route 62 in Ouray (?) County? We used to travel that route back in the late 30s and early 40s. We had a summer sheep camp at the Smith Ranch about 3 miles above route 62. The Smith Ranch had been a stop on the Dave Wood Road during its operation. Alan Talbert Silver Spring MD [Yes, indeed it is! Dave Wood Road intersects Hwy 62 in San Miguel County. Dave Wood Road is partly closed in winter. -Dave]

  2. John says:

    Thanks Dave. These trails will be kind of in my back yard this summer. Looking forward to checking them out.

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