Demaree CanyonDate: 6/27/2011
Miles: Approx. 4.75 round trip
Time: 3.5 hours
Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 39°24’2.69″N, 108°50’56.62″W
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Demaree Canyon is another area that has been on my radar for quite some time. There are four main canyons located within the Demaree Wilderness Study area. From east to west are Howard Canyon, Demaree Canyon, Camp Gulch and Dry Canyon. As far as I know at the present time, Demaree Canyon is the only canyon in the area with an established trail.
To access the trail head from Grand Junction you need to travel west on I-70 to the Loma Exit which is Highway 139. From Loma continue to travel north about 14 miles. At this point you will need a vehicle with moderate clearance, four wheel drive makes things more comfortable. Turn left (west) off of Highway 139 onto a dirt road that immediately winds past a stock pond and comes to a “Y” at an old corral and cattle loading chute. At this point you need to take the right road where it will go around the corral and drop down into a small gully where it fords the East Salt Creek. From here the road climbs out of the small gully where it skirts a small hill and once again drops off into a gully and a small valley area. This section of the road was a little eroded which made it a little more technical to travel on. At the bottom of the valley is another road that branches off to the right or north, do not take this road, continue on the road you’re on as it climbs out the other side of the valley. Once at the top of the hill you will come to an underground natural gas pipeline that runs east and west. As soon as you reach the top of the hill and meet up with the pipeline you will see a very faint two track road that runs almost straight north. Exit the main road you’re on and onto this two track road and travel over the little hump and pipeline. Once you get over the little hump the road becomes much more defined. If you miss this little road you will be driving parallel to the pipeline and eventually come to a fairly steep eroded looking hill you will need to go down. If you get to this spot you went too far.
Once we got off the main road we continued on the Demaree Canyon road for about a mile or so until we came to a carsonite BLM sign at the top of a hill indicating we were entering a State Wilderness Area. The road continued on but looked like it hadn’t been traveled on for quite some time. After all the washes, off-camber areas and rocks we discovered trying to find the right road we decided to park the truck at the top of the hill and begin our hike from here.
After a short ½ mile walk along the road we came to the official trail head. The trail was very over grown with weeds and bushes so if the sign wasn’t there we would have missed it. The ½ mile of road wasn’t too bad, just a little narrow and a small turn through a wash at the bottom but overall would have been easily navigated in a vehicle.
The trail starts out going through a thicket of sage and weeds as it drops into and out the other side of a small wash. As I said earlier the trail was very overgrown with weeds so it made it very difficult to follow in most places. On the way up we walked the majority of the way in the fairly dry wash as it wound its way up the canyon. After a mile or so we found a spot and climbed out of the wash and found the actual trail again.
The trail basically follows along the top edge of the wash as far as we went with an occasionally crossing through the creek bed. It looked like the trail actually followed a very old road or wagon trail. There were sections that appeared to be cut out of the side of the hill but it all has since been overgrown and almost completely reverted back to nature. As always, if anyone knows any history or has information on this canyon they would like to share I always welcome it. There were many places where the trail waded through waist high weeds and the majority of the rest of it required walking through fields of cheatgrass that fill your socks and shoes with those little pesky and pokey seeds.
After about 2.5 miles we had finally had enough of the weeds and decided to turn around. The trail continues on up the canyon for about 4 or so miles where it supposedly terminates at the head of the canyon.
The trip out we tried to follow the trail back out which proved a little difficult due to the overgrowth of weeds. This would be a nice trail and a good hike if it just had a little more traffic to help beat down the weeds and define the trail a little better. An alternative is to hike up the creek bed as far as you can but pretty much all you see from this vantage point is two dirt walls on either side of you and you have to watch out for the intermittent pockets of water that show up occasionally. Most of the water looked pretty nasty like it was stagnant and a lot of it had a weird sheen covering the surface. You would really need to watch your dog so it doesn’t drink any of it and be sure to pack in plenty of water because I wouldn’t even trust it if it was filtered.
Overall the hike was enjoyable. I have never been to this area before and the exploring that we did trying to find the trail head was pretty fun, although a little scary in some spots. I would like to hike to the head of the canyon sometime because it makes me wonder why there would be any road or trail up it to begin with. The trail is a little far from Grand Junction but worth the drive if you want to “Get away from it all”. This canyon definitely gives you the sense of solitude.