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Hiking & Walking: Colorado > San Juan National Forest > Mancos-Dolores Ranger District

Quick Facts

Calico Trail

Beginning Elevation: 8,000 Feet (2493.8 Meters) Trail end is also at 8,000 feet
High Point: 11,800 Feet (3678.3 Meters) At the junction of Calico and East Fork of the Fall Creek trails
Length: 13.5 Miles (22.5 Kilometers)
Trail Number: 641
Usage: Light
USGS Maps: Rico, Clyde Lake, Wallace Ranch

Outfitters and Guides

Satellite and Topo Map

General Description

This trail was cut out in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corp. Up to 100 men worked on widening the trail, so it could be used to drive stock into the high country. Today this trail receives light use yet provides some of the best scenic views of the surrounding mountains. The trailhead on Forest Road 471 has parking areas, hitching posts, and restrooms.

The Calico Trail is a great place for day use or an extended trail experience. The Calico Trailhead begins in an area of vast mountain meadows interspersed with woods of Engelmann spruce and subalpine fir. To the north rises 14,000 foot high El Diente, which is within the Lizard Head Wilderness. The trail then moves south through wet, lush meadows and moves into a forest of spruce and fir as it follows the divide between Dolores and West Dolores Rivers, climbing at an average grade of 8 percent to 11,866 foot high Papoose Peak.

At this point, the trail has risen above timberline and into a subalpine ecosystem. At the headwaters of the East Fork of Fall Creek, the Calico Trail drops in elevation and returns into the spruce-fir forest. The Calico Trail continues south to Priest Gulch Trailhead on Highway 145.

Other trails along Highway 145 also provide access to various points along the trail--Section House, Tenderfoot, Burnett, and Horse Creek are a few. Johnny Bull and the West Fork Fall Creek trails can be used as well.

Directions from Highway 145: The primary access is located near the north end of Priest Gulch Trailhead, located off Colorado State Highway 145, 12.0 miles south of Rico and 10.0 miles north of Stoner.There is another trailhead on Forest Road 471, off Dunton Road 535

Seasonal Information:
Normally Accessible: late spring through late fall, until it snows .

Current Conditions & Trip Reports
Winter conditions. Also known as the Lower Calico trail (#649). Trailhead is shared with the Priest Gulch Trail, located ten miles north of Stoner on Highway 145. For a loop day hike, take the Priest Gulch cut-off (#201)at mile 2.3 which will cut over to the Priest Gulch trail and backdown to the Trailhead. For a longer hike, the Calico will merge with the Priest Gulch Trail at mile 8.4, or you can continue to the Upper Calico which is 19.2 miles to the Eagle Rd Trailhead near the Meadows. Rated moderate to difficult. Trailhead elevation is 8,000'. Updated: 2004-04-23 14:00:00.0

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Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Hiking & Walking Calico Trail
ICON Horseback Riding Hitching Posts on Forest Road 471 trailhead

Related Activities
Burro Bridge Campground - Burro Bridge is 2 miles past Dunton and is a good base camp for hikes into the Lizard Head Wilderness. One site has a table suitable for wheelchairs.

Calico National Recreation Trail - The Calico National Recreational Trail travels south across marshlands, through wooded areas, and uphill to scenic highlands. You can choose several routes via connecting trails for a day hike or an extended backpack.

Calico Trailhead - This trail receives light use yet provides some of the best scenic views of the surrounding mountains.

Cayton Campground - Cayton Campground is 8 miles beyond Burro Bridge Campground. Because of Cayton's easy access to Colorado Hwy. 145 and Dolores River, the campground is very popular.

Cayton Picnic Ground - Because of Cayton's easy access to Colorado Hwy. 145 and Dolores River, this area is very popular. There is plenty of fishing along the river, but it may be crowded on summer weekends.

Priest Gulch Trailhead - Priest Gulch Trailhead, 11.0 miles southwest of Rico, leads to the alpine country to the west.

More Information

Visitor Information:

Mesa Verde Country Visitor Information, P.O. Box HH , Cortez, CO, 81321, Phone: 800-253-1616, Fax: 970-565-1155, lynnd@mesaverdecountry.com


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