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Mountain Biking: Colorado > Rio Grande National Forest > Divide Ranger District

Quick Facts

East Bellows Trail

Beginning Elevation: 10,800 Feet (3366.6 Meters)
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Elevation Gain: 1,900 Feet (592.3 Meters)
Ending Elevation: 12,700 Feet (3958.9 Meters)
Length, One-way: 8.4 Miles (14.0 Kilometers)
Trail Number: 790
Usage: Moderate
USGS Maps: Pool Table, Halfmoon Pass

Satellite and Topo Map

General Description

The trail provides good hiking access to Wheeler Geologic Area, Halfmoon Pass, and the La Garita Wilderness. Beautiful views and unique geologic features are the main attractions of this trail. Decent camping areas are not hard to find. Opportunities for fishing exist in East Bellows Creek. Trail allows for a good overnight backpack visit to Wheeler Geologic Area.

After arriving at Hanson's Mill, those planning to hike to Wheeler Geologic Area should follow the 4-wheel-drive road heading in a northeasterly direction. After approximately 0.25 mile, this road will fork. Follow the left, west fork of the trail for about 1.0 mile down into the East Bellows Creek drainage. The foot trail will begin just before reaching the creek.

Shortly after the trail begins, it will cross East Bellows Creek. The old sheep bridge is no longer usable, so hikers may get their feet wet. Crossings in the early summer can be dangerous. After the creek crossing, the trail will head up the west fork of East Bellows Creek, Canon Nieve.

In approximately 0.5 mile, the trail will fork. This junction is signed. Take the trail fork heading west for the best traveling to Wheeler. The trail will make a gradual climb through open parks and scattered timber patches before joining the 4-wheel-drive access road to Wheeler.

Follow the road west for about 1.0 mile to its end at a pole fence in a small meadow below Wheeler Geologic Area. The unique, picturesque features of the geologic area are about 0.25 to 0.5 mile north from the end of the road. The foot trail to Wheeler will quickly meet the West Bellows Creek Trail. Follow the sign directions and continue up West Bellows Creek Trail.

Just before reaching the lower base of the geologic formations, you will come to the junction of this trail with the Wheeler-Wason Trail # 789. Take the trail fork that heads north and in 150 yards you will be at the base of the beautiful Wheeler Geologic formations. The trail continues past a shelter house through a stand of timber and climbs above the formations. Some magnificent views are available before one conquers the crest of the La Garita Mountains at Halfmoon Pass.

Directions from Creede, Colorado: Travel south on Colorado Highway 149 for 7.3 miles to Forest Development Road # 600 (Pool Table Road). Go approximately 9.5 miles northwest on Pool Table Road (Forest Road 600) to the Hanson's Mill Trailhead. Starting at Hanson's Mill, the first 1.75 miles follows a 4-wheel-drive road down towards East Bellows Creek.

Seasonal Information:
Normally Open: Late June-Early July through Mid-September .

Current Conditions & Trip Reports
Snowed in Updated: 2000-05-09 10:39:00.0

Ranger TipAt the East Bellows Creek crossing, you enter the La Garita Wilderness. From this point on access is by foot or horseback only. Please respect the Wilderness!

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Difficulty: Moderate
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: A great 1 or 2 night backpacking trip. The Wheeler Geologic Area is amazing and worth the hike. Don't let the stream crossing (about 25 feet mid-summer and up to your knees) scare you off. Go slow and use safety precautions and you will have no problem.

Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Backpacking Not hard to find
ICON Geology Wheeler Geologic Area
ICON Cold Water Fishing East Bellows Creek
ICON Hiking & Walking East Bellows Trail
ICON Horseback Riding Access to Wheeler Geologic Area, Halfmoon Pass and La Garita Wilderness

Related Activities
Cathedral Campground - Cathedral Campground is northwest of Del Norte on Embargo Creek.Campground is located in an aspen grove with a beautiful view of Cathedral Rock to the north.

Cathedral Trail - The lower portion of the trail from the campground to Cathedral Rocks is the easiest to negotiate. From Cathedral Rocks, the trail climbs steeper and becomes rocky until it tops out near Groundhog Park.

Marshall Park Campground - This site is located near Colorado Hwy. 149 and is the closest forest campground to Creede. There is very little screening or trees, so heavy vehicle traffic along Colorado Hwy. 149 is visible.

Palisade Campground - Some sites are open, while other sites are screened with cottonwoods/aspen/spruce/fir. Campground is located adjacent to Colorado Highway 149 for easy access to travelers passing through.

Palisade Trail - This trail goes north towards Blue Park and Long Park and is mostly used by hikers and hunters.

More Information
Frequently Asked Questions
Email the Local Ranger

Visitor Information:

Divide Ranger Station, 13308 West US Highway 160, P.O. Box 40 , Del Norte, CO, 81132, Phone: 719-657-3321, TTY: 719-657-6038


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