“A trail with great solitude that explores a wide variety of ecosystems including lush La Fair Canyon”
— Janice Shepherd
Divide Road is closed to full-size vehicle traffic Jan 1 to May 15. With no winter maintenance, i.e. no snow plowing, early snow may effectively close the road earlier.
Features: Birding — Fall Colors — River/Creek — Wildlife
People traveling in passenger cars can park right beside Divide Road and then run short FS Rd 402.1B to get to the trailhead. Those with higher clearance can drive down the side road. There are nicely shaded dispersed camping spots along this side road. No facilities though, so please practice "Leave-No-Trace" principles.
If you pause out by Divide Rd you can read an old wooden sign about Telephone Trail Nesting Bird Cavity Habitat. That explains the symbols you'll see on some of the pine trees that protect them from historic wood-cutters as they hold nests of a wide variety of birds. Now rules prohibit cutting down any tree with a nesting cavity not just the ones in this area. See how many of the labelled trees your group can spot?
The trail starts by dropping down into lush La Fair Creek canyon. William (Bill) La Fair was an early pioneer to the area and an important Unaweep cattle rancher. He established a "Cowboy's Home" in Whitewater. That sounds like a retirement home, but it was more like a motel with stockyards and barns. A place for cowboys trailing livestock to get cleaned up and sleep in a bed overnight. A break from rough days out on the trail.
After the climb out of La Fair canyon, the trail continues mostly in a straight line. The solitude is incredible. The trail gets very little use so it can be faint in places, a straight gap in the trees shows the way at times. There's livestock in the area, so some of the cow trails look more developed than the actual trail. Keep in mind the straightness of this trail to help guide you along. The trail has another canyon to cross. Smith Creek flows down to Carson Hole.
Now you'll enter a series of aspen forests with large open meadows in between. There are some clear views of the Grand Mesa if you look north-west. The trail is climbing steadily.
You'll find yourself knee deep in grasses and sagebrush as the trail approaches Smith Point Road. Smith Point Road can be followed south-east to reach Divide Forks Cutoff Trail. These two trails can be combined for a good day's outing if you set up a car shuttle. We saw no one on Smith Point Road the day we walked it between the two trails and that was on a holiday weekend.