Colwell Cedars Retreat

      ~ merging awareness, creativity, and nature ~

~ Raven Trail ~
          The east Raven Trailhead is located at the The Pond dam. The east portion of Raven Trail is parallel and above the Ancients’ Way Trail, and was originally called the Junkyard Extension.  The trail was renamed the Raven, and extends west — up The Hill, below the vegetable garden.

          The west trailhead is located north of the garden.  Raven was named because a family of ravens nested near its eastern end and the juveniles sat atop a large juniper, squawking their pleasure or displeasure at the world.

          A very large boulder near the Sage Flat Trail is named Raven Rock.   And where Raven Trail drops down into the dry creek, we named the spot Raven Point.  Ravens are a very common sight here so we thought they deserved their own area.

~ Owl Trail ~
          The southern Owl Trailhead is located on the east side of Hazel Pond and the trail goes north, parallel to, then crossing, the creek where it meets Raleigh Cove Trail.  Sit on a warm rock during a sunny autumn day and watch the cattail fuzz drift up and down the creek as the breeze opens the fuzzy parachutes.

          The Owl Trail honors another majestic bird at Colwell Cedars among its ancient trees.   During an intense summer rain storm, we spotted an owl sitting near the top of a tree along the headwaters of Ruby Springs Creek — with its wings spread above its head like an umbrella.  This tree is along what later became the Owl Trail.

          Great Horned Owls have nested here many years; in January and February they wake us at 5 a.m. as they court from our rooftop.   These silent-flight predators help keep our rabbit population in check (we find rabbit’s feet and skunk tails at the bases of trees  and power poles).

~ Junkyard Trail and Junkyard Museum ~
          This trail starts at the Main House and goes north, mid-slope, ending at the confluence with Raven and Raleigh Cove Trails.  It winds through boulders, big prickly pear cactus, juniper, and junk.

          The 1930s era homestead trashed the hillside.  Our multi-decade removal of the homestead junk incorporated a variety of items along this trail.

          We created the Junkyard Trail before the Juniper House with its picture window was constructed.  With the junk in view, the “Junkyard Museum” sign explains this is an artificial junkyard, to recognize the homestead heritage.

~ Hazel Pond Trail ~
          The west trailhead is east of the Main House and switch-backs steeply down to Hazel Pond, crosses the dam, and goes steeply up the hillside to its east trailhead on the Eagle Feather Trail.  The last few feet downhill to the pond itself can be slippery, as can be crossing the rocks of the dam itself.

          Careful footing and a walking stick are recommended.  As you stand on the dam, you are looking south at our trail-less swamp/jungle.  Enter at your own risk to find hidden treasures.

          The pond was built in the 1930s as part of the original homestead.  There are remnants of an old pump, water line, and electric line.  Joe repaired the dam, pond and lines.  The pond fills-in with watercress and moss several times a year, requiring a cleanout — a refreshing chore on a hot summer day.

~ Wetfoot Trail ~

          This trail is seldom used, and very hard to follow.  The name says it all.  Expect to get your feet wet.

          It goes through one of the swamp hillsides on the east side of Laughingwater Creek.  The east trailhead is located on one of the switchbacks of Eagle Feather Trail, and it drops down through rushes, springs, and boulders, then crosses Laughingwater at the north end of the Laughingwater Trail.

          You pass near rare orchids, and in the winter you will pass by and over fantastic ice flows from the frozen springs.

          Besides being hard to find, the crossing of the creek is difficult.  Joe has moved the trail several times but there is just no easy way to locate this trail.  So enjoy and see seldom-seen views.

~ Laughingwater Trail ~
          This trail follows the edge of a section of Ruby Springs Creek.  The north Laughingwater Trailhead is located near the creek at the junction of Wetfoot and Gimmee Trails.  The south trailhead junctions with lower Ruby Springs Trailhead.  Laughingwater Creek (all of Ruby Springs Creek, as well as Cabin Creek in our west drainage) flows year round at a steady rate and is entirely spring fed.

          This area has a healing energy with the flowing water, small cascades, cattails and watercress.  It gives a feeling of complete isolation from the outside world, and in summer offers cooler temperatures.  In winter there are amazing ice flows from the frozen springs adjacent to the creek.  Above the creek on the east side are more rare Epipactis orchids.

~ Ancients’ Way Trail ~
          The trail is a short loop beginning and ending at different points of the Eagle Feather Trail, with short cutoffs to The Pond dam at the east extent of the loop.  This trail was built once we cleared much of the tangle of brush and deadfall out of the upper drainage.  This portion of the draw has irrigation runoff sporadically through summer months from our neighbors’ fields above us.

          Since it is a draw, it was created over the millennia by occasional natural runoff.  Compare the abundant rocks in the draw with the almost rockless Sage Flat.  These same rocks are underneath Sage Flat, awaiting erosion to take off the soil as it has along Ancients’ Way.  There are fantastic gnarly ancient juniper along the trail.  This is the northern edge of the ancient forest of juniper to the south.

~ Hummingbird Trail ~

          Another hard-to-follow trail, the north trailhead is along the Hazel Pond Trail, just above the Pond on the west side of the creek.  It passes on the edge of the trees at the border of the swampy wilderness below it.  The view of the wilderness plays peek-a-boo below you.

          The trail parallels Ruby Springs Trail until joining it near Baldy Knoll.  We know a lot of birds nest along here, but finding nests is almost impossible.  Near its south trailhead, a spur dives down to the rare Epipactis gigantea orchids.

~ Raleigh Cove Trail ~
          Named after Joe’s father, this trail starts below the solar panels and follows the west side of the upper Ruby Springs draw.  Along the way, the heavy cattail patch gives way to a dry creek bed.  The springs originate below you.   Across the creek is the Owl Trail and above you on the west side of the drainage paralleling Raleigh Cove is the Junkyard Trail.

          The north end of the trail crosses the Raven Trail, and continues north to meet the Sage Flat Trail at our north fence.  At the headwaters the large boulder patch made Joe think that his Dad growing up would have loved to sit here and enjoy being a kid back in flatland Illinois.

Ruby Springs Drainage Trails

          There are nine trails in this section.

          We recommend reading/hiking only a few at a time and return again for subsequent "hiking-reads."