Hiking Devils Canyon

Sometimes I would like to have the opportunity to meet the individual responsible for naming places.  Some names have history, others describe appearances or animals you might happen across (looking at you Golden Warbler Trails in Texas).

And then there are names like Devils Canyon.  Obviously the namer thought of this name before he saw the canyon and was just itching to put it to a canyon, any canyon probably.  Is there much devilish about this place?  Well, its hot.  Even in late March it can approach miserable.  This is a place I would advise against hiking in high summer.  Or at least doing so in the early morning, with lots of water and a hat.

Devils Canyon as best as I can discern is but one of a series of canyons near the Colorado National Monument.  As it is near but not in the Monument it is free!  Yay!

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Our intention was to hike D1 to D3 and return via D4.  To paraphrase Robert Burns* via Steinbeck “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”

I, like the sleekit mouse, have been known to have my plans go awry.  This hike was no exception and we took an unexpected detour down D2.  If you do the same, don’t worry it only adds about a mile to the total length, and you’ll know when you hit a dead end that you’ve gone the wrong way.

That said, D2 is mostly juniper scrubland with a couple decent views of distant mountains.  WP_20150331_002

I advise you keep an eye out for a creekbed on your left, D1 follows this creekbed.

The reason for the error is kinda funny.  There are signs telling visitors about the geology of the area.  For reasons I wasn’t completely able to discern the artist decided that the geologist would wear tie-dye and generally look like an old hippy.  The signs continue past the turnoff, and although each sign does contain instructions on how to get to the next, we didn’t read that part : )

So, back to the trail!

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D1 continues through this small canyon.  I suspect this is not Devils Canyon, but I’m not entirely certain.  As you continue down you’ll reach a sign indicating that their is a 4.1 mile loop ahead.  This incongruency compared to the trailhead map is small enough that I wouldn’t worry much over it.

Speaking of maps – theoretically you can pick one up at the trailhead parking area.  They were out when we were there but smartphones are decent substitutes.  While I’m on the subject of trailhead parking area – it was crazy full!  Probably 20 cars and room for a dozen more.  But the trails were largely empty, probably because of the many ways that can be taken. So those seeking quietude never fear!

Entering into a canyon, that I suspect is Devils Canyon, one is presented with the option of going right or left.  We selected right on the basis that it was uphill, and we like getting the steep uphill bits out of the way first.  I’m not sure that it works that way for this trail.  The trail rises steeply on both sides it turns out.  That said, the views of the canyon seemed to be superior ahead than behind, which I think means going left is more picturesque.  Your views/opinion on natural beauty may vary.

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I don’t know what it is about separated columns of rock…but they are just so cool! Maybe its the knowledge that most of the canyon won’t erode in a similar fashion? Simply crumbling away in a less dramatic fashion?

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This is one of the views that isn’t really that visible from the other side. You can tell that the rock is its own spire of awesomeness, but you can’t really see it.
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If you stare at these rocks, long enough you may begin to see faces in them. Or maybe it was the heat…
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This rock is at the end of the trail. To the right of it is a wash leading into the canyon, and to the left is what appears to be a continuation, or perhaps a branching of the canyon. I probably took half a dozen pictures of it. I even named it! Castle Rock.

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About halfway through the loop the trail crosses a creek at the bottom of the canyon.  Soon thereafter there is an old shepherds cabin.  Or so some piece of park literature said.

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Lots of old ‘stuff’ to use the technical term.  Definitely worth a peek inside!

The hike down the right side (as seen when entering the canyon) is probably a bit easier terrain than the left.  It was about nowish that the day began to feel pretty hot.  We typically hike with 6 liters for two people and a small dog, so running out wasn’t a concern.  But it was still a nice relief to come across a sealed up mine and sit in the shade for a spell.

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Right before getting back to where we started we spotted this fellow:

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He had been on one of the geological information signs and we had been hoping to see one, but hadn’t really expected to see him.  We ogled for a bit, but when I moved to take my camera out he decided he was done and took off for a crevice, so no photos.  But basically he looked like the picture and it was glorious.

Our return route took us on D4, which basically follows the top of the canyon that D3 sits inside of.  Total distance was 8.6 miles/13.8km, but it could be done about a mile shorter without D2.

This was a great hike with spectacular views of huge rock formations, small lizards, and tiny flowers.

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Oh and don’t forget the medium rock formations!

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So, remember your water, look for collared lizards, and enjoy the view!

*for those unfamiliar with Robert Burns:

To A Mouse

Wee, sleekit, cowran, tim’rous beastie,
O, what a panic’s in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
Wi’ bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an’ chase thee,
Wi’ murd’ring pattle!

I’m truly sorry Man’s dominion
Has broken Nature’s social union,
An’ justifies that ill opinion,
Which makes thee startle,
At me, thy poor, earth-born companion,
An’ fellow-mortal!

I doubt na, whyles, but thou may thieve;
What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!
A daimen-icker in a thrave ‘S a sma’ request:
I’ll get a blessin wi’ the lave,
An’ never miss’t!

Thy wee-bit housie, too, in ruin!
It’s silly wa’s the win’s are strewin!
An’ naething, now, to big a new ane,
O’ foggage green!
An’ bleak December’s winds ensuin,
Baith snell an’ keen!

Thou saw the fields laid bare an’ wast,
An’ weary Winter comin fast,
An’ cozie here, beneath the blast,
Thou thought to dwell,
Till crash! the cruel coulter past
Out thro’ thy cell.

That wee-bit heap o’ leaves an’ stibble,
Has cost thee monie a weary nibble!
Now thou’s turn’d out, for a’ thy trouble,
But house or hald.
To thole the Winter’s sleety dribble,
An’ cranreuch cauld!

But Mousie, thou are no thy-lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men,
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!

Still, thou art blest, compar’d wi’ me!
The present only toucheth thee:
But Och! I backward cast my e’e,
On prospects drear!
An’ forward, tho’ I canna see,
I guess an’ fear!

From: http://www.robertburns.org.uk/Assets/Poems_Songs/toamouse.htm

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