Sunday, July 26, 2015

Crag Crest Trail and Mesa Lakes, Grand Mesa CO

Crag Crest Trail, Grand Mesa CO
Friday, July 17, 2015
Mesa Lakes [Resort]
Saturday, July 18, 2015

After we broke down our tents on Friday morning at Saddlehorn campground, we drove east to the Grand Mesa area just east of Palisade.  I had reserved a cabin for the five of us Friday night so we could hike longer and put off the 4+ hour drive to Denver till Saturday morning. The plan was for the guys to hike the 10.5 mile Crag Crest Trail while the ladies finished up their town visit.

Today's hike went much better than the Rattlesnake Arches attempt yesterday.  The Crag Crest Trail is a national scenic trail, much better marked, and in a very different ecological area.  This trail has lots of trees except on the 11,200' crest.  It also has lots of lakes.  Here's the track for today's hike.
We started at the west trail head, which adds a 1/2 mile to get to the loop.  We then went clockwise, climbing to the crest and along it in the morning.  Here are some shots that include my brother-in-law and nephew.

The trail wound down through a boulder field when descending on the east end of the loop, and we stopped for lunch at the lake just down from the crest.

It was a leisurely day, with my nephew having lots of fun on the trail.  The lower (10,400'-10,600') trail back to the trail head was mostly meadows and forests, close to several lakes.  There were also several sections of uniform blow-down that looked like micro-cells had hit in the past.  But I didn't take any shots of those.

Here are a couple of shots from the lower half of the trail, including one where the clouds are clearly reflected in a calm lake.

This was a fantastic hike.  The crest part of the trail was long and unique (in my limited experience).  And it's a nice doable hike with minimal stress.  We got a few minutes of light rain on the crest, but it quickly cleared up.  It looks like the east (I would have called it south) trail head is near a campground and a lake with boating and swimming.  It seems a nice option for those staying overnight.

But I had reserved a cabin at Mesa Lakes Resort earlier, so we joined the ladies at the Avalanche Grill at the Powderhorn Ski Resort for dinner (only one open after 5:00 pm), then headed to the cabin.

The next morning, I got up and walked around the lakes (at 6:45 am).  Then my nephew wanted to walk around too.  So I went twice.  Here are some shots.  My nephew was in shorts, t-shirt, wind shirt, and blanket!  It was cool, but not cold.

That's about it for the Grand Junction area and this part of the trip.  After breakfast at the lodge, we headed back to Denver.  Have a good day!

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