~ West Ridge Loop Trail ~
This trail circles the east and west edges of the West Ridge. The trailheads branch off the trail south of the cabin, one to the right and one to the left. Near the end of the ridge, the West Loop Trail shares the West Ridge Trail for several feet. This trail winds through sage, juniper, native grass bunches, “west barrel cactus city”, with level and rocky sections, and moderate elevation changes.
The west side of the trail loop overlooks the west boundary of Colwell Cedars, with the southwest corner way down near the creek next to the west boundary. The stretch below the trail is another one of our mini wilderness areas, but completely different from the larger wilderness along Ruby Springs Creek. This one is a very dry west slope, with several patches of the desert plant Mormon Tea. This is a great place to sit in the sun on a cool fall or winter day.
West Ridge Area Trails
There are four trails in this area — Enjoy!
~ Burnt Pole Trail ~
The upper trailhead is located 50 feet east of the old cabin near the Colwell Cedars west fence. The trail goes steeply downhill, through sage, rocks and juniper, and midway down, passes at the base of a power pole, then connects with the Sleeping Cedar Trail just west of the creek crossing, near the north Old Forest trailhead. In its short distance it goes from dry cactus & sage environment to wet creek with tall mint, watercress and tall straight juniper.
This was one of the first trails constructed before we moved here; we camped in the old cabin and built the trail to access the center ridge. In our explorations of Colwell Cedars in the early 1990s, we found burnt pieces of cross arm on the ground at the base of the power pole. We looked up and saw the electric wires and cross arm were not attached to the pole. DMEA—our electric co-op—was grateful that we called, as they had been looking for the reason for periodic power outages for months and couldn’t figure out where their problem was.
~ West Ridge Trail ~
Most of this trail is a 4-wheel drive track, created when DMEA built the power line up from Rogers Mesa. On the ridge top, only the south end was built as a foot trail. The trail continues down the east slope of the ridge, where it connects with Sleeping Cedar and Gandercon Trails near the creek. This extension downhill makes it one of our longest trails, with the biggest diversity of vegetation and views.
The West Ridge was where we first “lived” when we bought the vacant property. We cleaned out the old cabin and camped in it for several years of weeklong visits. Using our 4-wheeler, this trail is the easiest way for visitors to experience the views from our south and west edges of Colwell Cedars, including viewing the first spring cactus blooms and Townsendia daisies.
~ Old Forest Trail ~
Old Forest Trail is a “hairpin” loop, with both trailheads on the Burnt Pole Trail. The trail accesses the middle slope of the east side of West Ridge, between the Sleeping Cedar and the east portion of West Ridge Loop Trails.
The upper trailhead is near the Velvet Rock junction with Burnt Pole; and the lower trailhead is near the Burnt Pole junction with Sleeping Cedar.
Old Forest Trail has stretches of level grassy mixed with moderately rocky treads. The trail gives a good feeling for an area not cleaned up as part of the defensible space effort of getting rid of a lot of downfall and dead limbs.
~ merging awareness, creativity, and nature ~
Colwell Cedars Retreat
30048 North Road
Hotchkiss, Colorado, USA.
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