“Whether the views bring you out here, or history, or just the welcoming embrace of solitude, Dexter Creek has it all.”
— Caroline Cordsen
Camping is common along this trail, especially near its convergence with the Cutler Creek and Baldy trails, but be sure to follow all Uncompahgre Wilderness regulations.
Features: Birding — Fall Colors — River/Creek — Spring — Views — Waterfall — Wildflowers — Wildlife
Immediately meeting with Dexter Creek, the trail climbs nearly 300 feet before a sign three-tenths of a mile in directs you across the rubble of a wide washout. Be careful to ignore the more obvious trail which leads straight ahead into the woods.
Shortly afterward, watch for the old engine, rusted and teetering at the edge of a deep hole as the trail passes by the relics of the Alamadi Mine, the first of three mines fed by these waters. Then coming up on the half mile mark, a set of intriguing cabins lay abandoned below you at the water's edge at the site of the El Mahdi Mine. Finally, not quite erased by the elements just yet, sits the rotting outline of an old wooden cabin and outhouse, the tin-shell of a boiler room, and an engine, exposed and surrounded by the collapsed walls which once housed it: the Old Maid Mine.
From here, the trail drops to the wide channel of the creek bed, cairns pointing the way across the erosion. Without much elevation gained, the trail pulls away once again a quarter of a mile on. This is where the real fun starts.
Veering from Dexter Creek, switchbacks pull the trail higher up the mountainside. Entering the Uncompahgre Wilderness on the lip of a ridge, the climb abates after a steep gain of 650 feet.
Steering itself from meadow to meadow, the trail wraps the rippled contours of the earth to seek out easier grades above Dexter Creek. Pine and aspen keep pace, but as the route finds a dry offshoot of Dexter Creek, wildflowers begin to bloom in the once snowmelt-filled channel.
Now heading northeast, the gully gives rise to another steady climb, only to pull away after one-half mile. Again gaining the ridge, it doesn't take long for mountain views to open up at your back, including the Bridge of Heaven.
Reaching a saddle at the trail's convergence with the Difficulty Creek Trail, the route makes a sharp left. Just beyond a thin curtain of pine you'll find views, first of Courthouse Mountain and the Cimarrons, then of the mountains separating us from Lake City, including Coxcomb and Wetterhorn. The final seven-tenths of a mile unravel northwest along the ridge, loosing about 275 feet to meet with a dead end at the Cutler Creek and Baldy trails. Here, a fallen trail post marks the end of the trail, and plenty of primitive camping exists for backpackers passing through.
Flora & Fauna
Thick forests of pine and aspen encase much of the trail, and wildflowers grow heavy near the creek beds. Keep an eye out for bears and mountain lions, as well as plenty of deer and elk.