August 27, 2011

We wanted to have the fun of going camping with friends without the added excitement of packing and unpacking tents, sleeping bags, stoves, and all the other overnight gear. So we spent the day playing at Transfer Campground and our friend Scot showed us a great little trail down to the West Mancos River.

Trail head: Transfer Campground and the trail heads there are about 30 minutes from our house, or 15 minutes from Mancos. Just north of Mancos go right on road 42. This road is paved for a short while, then switches to gravel that is always dusty and all wash board and cattle guards. Soon it becomes Forest Service Road 562. There is a big sign at a Y in the road that says “Transfer” take the right fork to a parking area on the left of the road. The trail head is across the road on the right. It is not specifically marked with a trail head sign. It is just to the right of the large map and there is a sign with trail lengths from this trail head to other adjoining trails in the area.

Terrain: This is a mountain hike that is in aspen and ponderosa forest. The trail is short and steep.

Accessibility: This trail is open to hikers, horses, and mountain biking. No motorized vehicles.

Length: I’m not sure how long the trail it. There is no sign that says and I’m not a good judge of distance when going up and down steep areas. About half a mile?

Difficulty: This trail is steep with several switchbacks. It goes straight down to the river, and since what goes down, must come up, it is steep coming back up. It wasn’t terribly difficult though. We hiked with 4 kids ranging in age form 5-10 and made it down to the river in about 20 minutes and hiked out in about 30 minutes. Except for the one kid in the bunch who chose to hike bare foot the entire way up and that kids patient or possibly way too accommodating mom. (That’s me.) Who followed him out. Slowly. Much longer than 30 minutes for those two.

Highlights: On the hike in there are some great views of the La Plata peaks including Hesperus before you drop into the canyon. There are 2 different trail marker signs along the way down. One shows the fork to the West Mancos Trail and the other showing the distance to the Box Canyon Trail. You can make a loop by hiking down river to the Box Canyon trail and hiking out of the canyon then back up the Rim Trail that parallels the road back to the trail head. The river at the bottom is wonderful. Super lush, lots of moss, ferns, and plants. Flat enough for wading, with big rocks to sit on too. The canyon bottom in narrow and we didn’t see open spots big enough or flat enough for a tent if you wanted to backpack, but there may have been some further down the trail.