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Hiking & Walking: Colorado > Pueblo Area

Quick Facts

Picket Wire Canyonlands Trailhead

Elevation: 4,660 Feet (1452.6 Meters)
Reservation Status: Not Accepted

Satellite and Topo Map

General Description

This road is smooth enough for passenger vehicles in dry conditions
Copyright: Amy Pyle - Interactive Outdoors, Inc.
This road is smooth enough for passenger vehicles in dry conditions
This trailhead provides access for hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians into Withers Canyon. The Purgatoire River created this canyon on its way to meet the waters of the Arkansas River. One trail leads south through the canyon 8.7 miles and passes three sites of interest. Camping is not permitted in the canyon: this site is for day-use only.

Once you reach the trailhead, register and pass the pipe gate, users will be dropping in elevation about 500 feet into Withers Canyon. (Ranching is a primary means of livelihood in this area. Please close gates and do not disturb livestock.) Within one mile of the pipe gate visitors will reach the Purgatoire River which flows northeasterly through the canyon. Within 3.7 miles of the trailhead visitors will reach the Dolores Mission and Cemetery site. The mission was built sometime between 1871 and 1889, when Mexican pioneers first began to settle permanently in the valley. Partial remains of the mission and cemetery are visible.

The next attraction in the canyon is 5.3 miles from the pipe gate. It is the largest documented dinosaur track site in North America. The site extends .25 miles and contains over 1300 visible tracks, that comprise about 100 different trackways. The dinosaurs inhabited the area 150 million years ago when a shallow lake covered the region. They left their footprints on the shores of this lake. Tracks of carnivores (60%) and herbivores (40%) exist at this site. The significance of this site stems from the evidence of social behavior among the huge reptiles.

The Rourke Ranch lies 8.7 miles from the pipe gate. The site was a cattle and horse ranch founded by Eugene Rourke in 1871. Three generations of the Rourke Family lived and worked on the ranch. At its sale in 1971 it was known as one of the oldest and most successful enterprises in southeast Colorado with a holding of 52,000 acres.

The facilities along the trail include three portable toilets at the bulletin board (County Road 25 and B junction), track site and Rourke Ranch. No drinking water is provided anywhere in Picket Wire Canyonlands. Please check with the Comanche National Grassland Office in La Junta about road and weather conditions before entering this remote area.

Directions from La Junta: Drive south on Highway 109 for 13 miles to County Road 802. Turn right (west) on to 802 and travel eight miles to the junction with County Road 25. Turn left (south) on to 25 and proceed 6 miles to a sharp right turn in the road. A bulletin board and parking lot lie straight ahead. Turn into the parking lot. The bulletin board has pertinent information about the site and a map or the region. If you turn left from 25 you'll see Forest Developed Road 500A. Follow signs three miles to the Picket Wire Canyonlands. Four-wheel drive vehicles are recommended for this road by the Forest Service. Although, I made it to the pipe gate in my Volkswagen Golf on a dry day.

Current Conditions & Trip Reports

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Filed By: Cody (Pueblo, CO)
Time of Day: 7a.m
Length of Time: 5 hours ( spent at lest 1 hour exploring)
Difficulty: Moderate
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: Cool trail if you are into history... Petroglyphs (rock art) are hard to spot, i could not find any... take at least a gallon of water per person, and make sure to save some for the climb back out of the canyon which was the toughest part imo...

Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Trailhead Parking Picket Wire Canyonlands Trailhead
ICON Archeology Picket Wire Canyonlands
ICON Geology Picket Wire Canyonlands
ICON History Picket Wire Canyonlands
ICON Hiking & Walking Picket Wire Canyonlands
ICON Horseback Riding Picket Wire Canyonlands
ICON Bird Identification Picket Wire Canyonlands
ICON Mountain Biking Picket Wire Canyonlands
ICON Viewing Historic Sites Picket Wire Canyonlands

Related Activities
Vogel Canyon Picnic Area - Vogel Canyon Picnic Area provides an opportunity for families and individuals to spend a day hiking, picnicking, viewing scenery and inspecting archaeological sites.

More Information

Visitor Information:

Pike and San Isabel National Forests, 1920 Valley Drive , Pueblo, CO, 81008, Phone: 719-545-8737

Pueblo Chamber of Commerce, 302 North Santa Fe Drive, P.O. Box 697 , Pueblo, CO, 81003, Phone: 800-233-3446, www.pueblochamber.org


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