Colorado - Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP HP

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Colorado Climber
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Colorado - Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP HP

Peaks: other:BCGNP Public Land High Point 8840, Poison Spring Ridge 9020, Poison Spring Hill 9040

Dates: 10/10/2017


Post by Colorado Climber » Wed Oct 11, 2017 6:31 pm


Start/End Loc: Deadhorse TH, North Rim
Distance/Elevation: 8.6 miles RT/1756 feet elevation gain

Two highpoints are considered within Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP. Separated by a mere ¾ miles one lies in the public portion of the park while the other lies in one of the private property portions of the park. BCGNP Public Land High Point is referenced in peakbagger and is in the public portion. Poison Spring Hill is referenced in LoJ (true summit because it’s higher) and is in the private property.

It’s strongly advised to not attempt Poison Spring Hill. The landowner does not want people on his property (see photo). :( It may not go well for you if caught.

Follow the North Rim Road into the park and take the left fork to its end rather than the right fork to the ranger station and campground. Park at the Kneeling Camel View pullout. From there walk 100 feet east to Deadhorse TH. Follow the trail as it descends slightly into the gap and then up the other side. Continue on the trail until near its end, where you arrive at a N-S fence and the trail continues abruptly to the right. I don’t know why the fence extends S to this point, maybe for historical reasons, but if you follow the fence N in a short distance you arrive at the private property boundary.

From the private boundary corner staying on the south side of the fence keeps you in the public lands part of the park. Follow the fence E, then N, then E again as it segments to the Public Land High Point (see my park map markup and topo). You can see from my track that I short-cutted one of the corners. In general following the fence line or near the fence line is easy with only an occasional bushwhack. The fence seems to be maintained so there is a decent track.

If you are so inclined to visit the true highpoint of the park, which as stated above is ill-advised, head uphill and then W. The private land N of the fence is riddled with cow tracks, so walking is not too bad but the tracks will be circuitous. Descending from Poison Spring Hill is another story. Initially you can follow cow tracks more or less down to the western fence line but, once beyond the fence, be prepared for some slow going and nasty sections.

Once down to the “old road” I tried staying in the wash to short-cut back E to Deadhorse Trail (see topo). Although it started out nicely, it choked off a few times so I gave up and returned to the road. The road is almost non-existent in places and ends as a very faint track through the brush. I was very happy to reach the main trail again. :D

Although the distance and elevation for my trip were pretty tame, it took me close to 4 hours car-to-car due the bushwhacking. Out and back to only the PLHP via the fence line would be much quicker.
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