Purpose: We strive to build an active and aware community to protect and enhance the lands, air, water and wildlife of the Lower Gunnison Watershed. In doing so, we believe that engaging people with our public lands increases awareness and advocacy for the beautiful place we live. Over the summer we do a series of hikes that take people to lesser used trails in our back yard that Conservation Center is actively working to protect.
Sign up for a Hike: Under 2021 Hikes, click on the hike you would like to attend, this will redirect you to the registration Eventbrite page. Here you will find additional information about the hike including meeting time & location, what to bring, learning objectives, and more!
For additional information about the trails we hike, check out our archive of blog posts at the bottom of the page that includes hikes from this year and last year!
Covid-19 Protocols: As we continue to deal with the safety concerns related to Covid-19, we will be following all necessary protocols to ensure a safe hike for everyone involved. The following restrictions will be followed at all times:
Unless indicated otherwise, we will have no more than 15 people total on our hikes.
Maintain a physical distance of at least 6 feet from members of other households at all times, except in cases where it is unsafe to maintain that distance.
Separate cars will be taken to the trailhead.
Masks will be worn when not actively hiking. Please bring one with you.
Hikers will bring their own equipment including water, hand sanitizer, and food/snacks. Please acquire all necessary equipment before arriving to hike.
Do not hike if you are feeling sick or are experiencing any symptoms.
Located in the Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area & Dominguez Canyons Wilderness Area, this is a moderate out-and-back, totaling 4-6 miles with up to 1,000 feet elevation gain. The McCarty trail offers an abundance of solitude and natural beauty. The trail composition is similar to the Grand Staircase-Escalante region in Utah – and contains Pinyon Pines, Juniper and smaller cacti. From the first bench and then at the level mesa top, one has outstanding views of the Grand Mesa, West Elks, The Raggeds, The Ruby’s (above Crested Butte) and San Juan Mountains to the south. The hike is within the Dominguez Canyon Wilderness. A wilderness designation is the highest protection for public lands – only hikers and horseback riders are allowed along this hike. As a result, only 12 people are allowed to hike as a group at any one time.
April 17th: Birding with Bob Sapena.
Fruitgrowers Reservoir is a renowned birding spot in Harts Basin just northeast of Delta. Designated an Important Bird Area by the Audubon Society, it is known for being a critical stop-over for 60% of the world’s Greater Sandhill Crane population. We will be hiking along the western edge of the reservoir as well as the northern edge along the road to view Harts Basin to see various species of waterfowl, Sandhill Cranes, raptors, shorebirds, and some songbirds. Please meet us in Don’s parking lot in Paonia at 7:45 AM to carpool to the reservoir. If you are coming from elsewhere in the area, feel free to meet us at 8:30 am at the parking area at the northwest corner of Fruit Growers reservoir on North Rd out of Eckert. Bring hiking shoes, sturdy pants, binoculars (and spotting scope if you have one), water, a hat, and a bird book if you have one. The hike will conclude by 11:00 AM.
May 1st: Paonia River Park Trail – Family Hike with Megan Randall.
No need to travel far to enjoy nature! This is an easy 1-mile hike along the North Fork of the Gunnison River- this is a family hike so bring the kids! A once in-stream gravel mine is now a park, a product of years of restoration and trail building work by the Western Slope Conservation Center. It is one of only two public access points to the North Fork of the Gunnison and has created 19 acres of protected habitat for local deer, elk, birds, and fish.
May 24th: Cool Rock Canyon Trail – Geology with Betsy Johnson and Holly Bidle.
The Cool Rock Canyon trail winds through a colorful sandstone canyon with interesting rock formations and fun places to explore. It is located on South River Road in the Gunnison Gorge NCA, just outside the designated Wilderness Area. The NCA was designated by Congress in 1999, where only hiking and horseback riding is permitted. The 62,844 acre NCA encompasses diverse landscaping and is recognized for its geologic, scenic, wilderness, and recreational resources.
The theme for this outing is Geology, and also to enjoy the cool and unique formations in this canyon. It will lead by WSCC volunteer champions Betsy Johnson and Holly Bidle. Holly (former geologist) will walk us through rocks that were formed 150-200 million years ago – mostly sedimentary rocks of the Entrada and Morrison Formations. Every turn and bend made in the canyon will bring us to a totally different view and color of rocks – sometimes steep walls, large overhangs, and ledges, or evidence of rock falls from centuries ago.