“An easy trail meandering by a canyon rim and through a Ponderosa Park. Great for novice hikers.”
— Chris Liverett
Birding · Fall Colors · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
Must be a resident of Pagosa Lakes in order to park at the current parking coordinates. (Sign at current parking coordinates threatens prosecution of non-residents.) Loop is only accessible via other trails from the Turkey Springs Trailhead to the north, which will result in a hike much longer than four miles.
The trailhead is at gate #5 in the San Juan National Forest. This is a popular jump point for visitors and locals alike in Pagosa Springs.
Upper Rim Loop (#312) starts at the kiosk near gate #5. A brief "technical" section is at the very beginning and consists of two small rocky sections. From the trailhead scamper through the gate to the first intersection. The trail branches here, if you want to see the view from the rim sooner rather than later, turn left and go around the circuit clockwise. Staying left at the first intersection takes you on a clockwise loop along the rim of Martinez Canyon over occasional rocky outcroppings and short steep sections. The tread is a bit rocky in some spots and soft smooth pine duff covered singletrack in others. so if it is too lumpy for you right now power through to the smooth stuff that is just around the corner.
At mile 2.3 you'll encounter the intersection with Creek Trail (#311); stay to the right to return by skirting some open meadows and jaunts through pine forest on varying grades to the intersection of Newt Jack (#305). Stay right, continuing clockwise until you return to the trailhead.
The trail makes a fine loop through big widely spaced trees. The butterscotch aroma from the Ponderosa pine will carry you over fun singletrack. The occasional patches (copse) of oak add a bit of variety. Keep your eyes peeled for cows and their droppings as they are allowed to roam so don't let your dogs get too far ahead, just hike faster to keep up!
Flora & Fauna
Plenty of deer and the occasional bear and elk can be seen on this trail. The trail enters beautiful pine forest with wildflowers dotting the edges of scenic meadows.