Overview: The canyon walls rise about 500-800 feet above the canyon floor. Geologically, the lower layer is the Morrison Formation and the top layer is the Burro Canyon formation. On a previous Mike’s Hike up a neighboring canyon, Geologists, Dr. Noe, mentioned that both of these rock geological layers were very promising for finding dinosaur tracks. The Morrison formation, especially on the front range of the Rockies, is known for its extensive dinosaur tracks discoveries. Hopefully, we will find some evidence of historical artifacts as we travel up this canyon!
Potter Canyon is located in Camel Back Wilderness Study Area (WSA), a remote spot that provides nothing but solitude. This WSA was inventoried by the BLM in 1980 because of its Wilderness characteristics, but it has not been officially designated as Wilderness by Congress.
This WSA is characterized by a series of deep canyons and extensive mesa, sculptured by streams that cut canyons with massive cliffs, talus slopes, and isolated mesas and buttes. Vegetation consists of cactus, cottonwoods, and pinyon-junipers.
Trail Description: The trail travels up Potter Canyon, in a healthy Pinon-Juniper high desert terrain with very large Rabbit Brush and Sage Brush. Hiked as an out-and-back you choose your own distance.
Difficulty: Moderate. Starting elevation – 5,200ft with minimal elevation gain. The trail crosses Potter Canyon Creek a few times, but in this late, dry summer, these crossings will likely be dry or low-flow.
What to bring: Good boots, lots of water, sunscreen, extra layers, hiking pools, snacks, and lunch.
How to get to the trailhead: From Paonia, it is approximately a 1 hour drive. Just west of Delta we drive into the eastern low desert country of the Uncompahgre Plateau. The last 6 miles of the drive is along the Roubideau Canyon dirt road, which is a little bumpy and rocky but not too rough.