Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Dayhikes in the Colorado snow

Over Thanksgiving, I visited the Four Corners area, which is where Still Waters has recently taken a job.  The high peaks of the La Plata Mountains in southwestern Colorado were covered in snow, but the lower elevation trailheads in the Transfer Recreation Area, 11 miles northeast of Mancos, CO, were still accessible.
Still Waters on the Aspen loop (an ATV trail).
The Transfer Recreation Area has an incredible network of trails that allow lower-elevation loops as well as access into the high country, including linking to the Colorado Trail.  Still Waters drove us up to the Transfer Campground in her truck.  Following an ATV trail provided an easy option for one dayhike.
Snowy La Plata Mountains in the distance.
For my second dayhike, I parked lower down near the Doc Lowell Flat to avoid the snow and mud up at the Transfer Campground (since I drive a small civic and was going by myself this time).  I slogged on muddy ATV roads to the Box Canyon Trailhead (8900 feet).  From there, the Rim Trail, West Mancos Trail, and Transfer Trail form a nice little loop.  I descended into the canyon and then I turned onto the West Mancos Trail to follow along the river.  A left turn brought me back up the canyon onto the Rim Trail, and up to the Transfer Campground, with lovely view across the canyon to the 13,000 foot peaks of the La Plata Mountains.
Along the West Mancos Trail.
There is nothing like walking in snow.  It smells fresh and crisp on the breeze.  There is the crunch underfoot.  You can feel your core tighten and all the smaller muscles of your legs engage. 
Time for microspikes.
Increasing snow at higher elevations.
I longed to follow the path that led up to higher elevations, but I had reservations about going out past where the other footprints stopped when I was by myself.  Hopefully, some other time...

Overall, the Transfer Recreation Area was a lovely place and it'd be wonderful to explore the area more.

Trail and Route Information:

Guide to the Scenic Hiking Trails in Mesa Verde Country” - excellent brochure listing trail descriptions and with (rough) maps.

Trails Illustrated #144 Durango Cortez - topo map for the region.

Directions to the trailhead on the FS website


  1. My sister in law lives in Mancos. Thanks for giving me some ideas!

    1. Oh Mancos is such a cute town! So much incredible hiking in that area.