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(Continued from last page.)

Many of the streams beds have rocks and deep sand that are tougher to negotiate than the very hard trail surface but they certainly add interest to the trail. I wandered up and down several of the crossings to inspect the layers of rocks in the walls and the boulders lying about:



I turned one corner and found myself in a little green oasis. These taller trees by the river have gotten enough moisture during the winter to withstand the current drought and the controlled burn:

Continuing farther up the trail toward the equestrian campground . . .


The single-track Mesa Trail intersects with the Lower Canyon Trail after about 2 miles:

Jim has run the Mesa Trail but I haven't. 

The Lower Canyon Trail flattens out for about 1/8 mile before the intersection with the Little Red River, Wild Horse, and equestrian campground trails:

This part of the trail looks like it could be a creek if it rains or snows a lot.

The Wild Horse Trail goes east one mile to connect to the Canyon Rim Trail, described in a previous entry, and south 7/10ths mile to the Wild Horse camping area for equestrians.

At that intersection I turned west and followed the Little Red River/Lower Canyon Trail along the riverbed for the next 2.2 miles back to the North Prong parking area.


This trail starts off as flat single-track

but soon goes into and out of the riverbed numerous times as it winds through the lower canyons:

The first crossing was fairly dry but there was some water in the riverbed on either side of the trail:

We crossed the riverbed on this trail about ten times.

There was only a little bit of water at each crossing, barely enough for Cody to get a drink. I imagine the stream crossings are a bit of a challenge when there's more rainfall or snow runoff. In fact, last year Jim was on this trail and turned back at one point because there was so much water in the river.


After approximately a mile the trail widens and ascends to a bluff over the river:



Mesa overlooking the river

Shortly after this spot, the Little Red River Trail takes a dive down to the river on a steep, narrow trail with loose rocks. Both Jim and I missed the trail the first time we were there because it isn't marked and it just disappears over the edge of the bluff like a ditch formed from runoff. We each mistakenly followed the wider trail down to the park road, where it ends.

OK. Let's try that again. Note that we did this same process separately . . .

Back up to the rim, find the more obscure trail, realize it is the one we want, then slip-slide down the steep, rocky slope to the river. The next two pictures look back up that hill:


The very top of that slope (first of the two photos above) might be a little dangerous for horses or bikes going downhill. It was so steep that I went down the first set of rocks backwards to protect my knees. I think it would be easier for most people and horses to go uphill (CCW on the loop or eastbound on this section of trail).

There was water in this part of the river, too, and I got my feet a little wet here.

The trail crosses the river a couple hundred feet from the park road bridge. I took this photo of the bridge as I ascended the trail on the other side of the river:

The trail on that side is no picnic, either. In fact, it's just as steep, slide-y, and even longer because the next mesa is higher:


At the top of the bluff there are great views back to Eagle's Point (below) and in every other direction:

The last half mile of Little Red River/Lower Canyon Trail F is wider, smoother, and flatter. Going westbound I had scenic views of all the colorful mountains near the North Prong parking area:




Cody has a fantastic nose. Even on trails that are completely new to him, he always knows when we're about to mile from the truck and he surges on ahead, like a man on a mission:


I didn't recognize the rocks from this direction and didn't realize we were that close to the parking area. I misunderstood the map and though we had another mile to go. Suddenly we turned a bend . . . and there was the parking lot!

Cody's nose was right. It always is.

Next entry:  a more challenging loop on the western side of the park

Happy trails,

"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, and Cody the Ultra Lab

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2011 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil