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[San Juan Silver Stage | June 2020 | Ninah Hunter]
While most of us are still hunkering down at home during the ongoing CoronaVirus outbreak, we have to get out once in a while to relieve the cabin fever. Restrictions have been lifted—slightly, and provided abundant caution is used (See latest Colo. Mandates.) One of the best ways to alleviate cabin fever, get out and get some exercise is taking a hike, especially now that our early summer days offer plenty of sunshine and clean, fresh air. Fortunately, in Ouray County, it’s easy to hike close to home. I’m an avid hiker. Here are some of of my favorite trails close to where I live in Ouray County.
Uncompahgre Riverwalk (Ridgway to Dennis Weaver Park). One of the easiest hikes from Ridgway is the Uncompahgre Riverwalk Trail. It’s dog (on a leash), stroller, wheelchair and bike friendly. Start at Hartwell Park and head north. Cross over the River on the old railroad trestle bridge. Stop for a picnic lunch or rest on one of the benches along the river at the BLM Water Park, then continue north to the Dennis Weaver Memorial Park. Enjoy its peaceful stacked-rock medicine wheel and awe-inspiring 2,800-lb., bronze eagle statue. If you turn-around at Dennis Weaver, it will be about a 3-mile round-trip hike.
Dennis Weaver Park Trails From the parking area, there are several, wonderful, single-track, dirt trails radiating from the Park. To the south, there is a nice loop trail along the river starting from within the Park. Going north from the parking area, take Old Stagecoach Trail up to the top of Boot Hill for some of the best views of the San Juan Mountains and valleys below. Several alternative trails branch off Stagecoach in different directions, looping back along the mesa or along the River back to the parking lot. Many of these trails have been improved or created by the RAT (Ridgway Area Trails) Group and are also a favorite for mountain bikers.
Uncompahgre Riverwalk (Dennis Weaver to Dutch Charlie Campground). Whether you arrived on foot or by car, the Riverwalk continues along the cement path along Highway 550 till it crosses County Road 24 into the Ridgway State Park at the Dallas Creek Day Use Area. It follows the river to the reservoir where you can hike down to and play in the water or carry on north a bit further to the Cookie Tree picnic area. This is a great place to stop and have lunch before turning back. If you are really ambitious, you can carry on north where the trail turns into pea gravel around the lake before it heads up steeply along the escarpment into the Dutch Charlie Campground down to the marina and the day use picnic area. Here the trail again becomes a cement path, circling Mears Bay to the trailhead of Enchanted Mesa.