redroanchronicles: Seasons (seasons)
Over the weekend, my dog Trudeau and I explored a few local trails. Our first attempt, Fourmile Stock Trail, was disappointing: it was neither particularly scenic, nor was it comfortable to walk (lots of loose rock everywhere, and plenty of noise when the ATVs came out to play). It did spill us out onto a nice gravel road and beyond that, the continuation of a much more comfortable walking trail (it wasn't signposted, so I don't know what it's called)... but of course by then it was time to turn around and go back.

So I was pretty delighted when our next attempt turned out much better. We drove out of Pagosa into the San Juans, looking for the Piedra River Trail. The directions I'd found online were fairly accurate (see below for my own directions, which will lead you to the actual trailhead, unlike the directions I had used) and we found the spot without a problem. The trail forks to both an upper and lower trail; the lower trail is the one you see in my photos, and I'm told the upper trail is pretty awesome, too, and there are ice caves if you know where to look. Which I... don't.



More photos, info and awesome beneath the cut )
How to get there: From Pagosa Springs, take Hwy 160 to Piedra Road. Proceed north on Piedra Road for about 17 miles. When you reach the Piedra River bridge, drive just a bit further up the road and take the next available left, into a parking lot which will lead you directly to the well-marked trailhead. You can also park in the turn-offs just on either side of the bridge, but your access to the trail from there is a fairly steep ascent up a rock face; going up that way worked fine for me, but I'd hate to try to get back down that route after a little rain. Horseback riding, hiking and fishing are all allowed, but no motorized vehicles, and the trail seems both popular enough and narrow enough that I didn't picture it as the most fun ever for horseback riding, either.

Area access: The majority of the drive on Piedra is on a well-maintained gravel road. In good weather, a 2-wheel-drive vehicle will get you there without a problem. A bike would probably make for an even better trip. Winter is likely another story. The drive itself is gorgeous, especially with the fall color coming out.

Difficulty: The Piedra River Trail is mostly an easy hike, with the difficulty increasing to moderate as you go further. If you're not quite up for the exertion, or you're just stopping through the area on your way to somewhere else, stop in at the Piedra River picnic area across the road (signage on the road will point the way); it's a lovely spot with picnic tables, restrooms, and a very nice view.

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redroanchronicles

August 2011

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