Tabeguache Area Trails
Tabeguache Creek and its North Fork begin in fertile subalpine bowls atop the Uncompahgre Plateau. The main fork plunges quickly into a steep-walled canyon of brilliant red Wingate Sandstone, while the North Fork takes a more leisurely route, winding 5 miles through an unbroken expanse of vibrant aspen before it also drops abruptly into a deep canyon lined with red sandstone cliffs. These cliffs, normally associated with desert terrain, seem somehow out of place surrounded by lush greenery in this unique melding of canyon and mountain country. The area is named for the Tabeguache band of Utes who roamed the Uncompahgre Plateau until 1880, when they were exiled to the Uintah Reservation in Utah. Tabeguache loosely translates as “place where the snow melts first” or “sunny side.” True to its name, Tabeguache Creek drains the southwestern escarpment of the Uncompahgre Plateau, a broad shield that rises gradually from the east to a deceptive elevation more than a mile above the surrounding plains. Carved by the San Miguel and Dolores rivers, the western edge of the uplift drops more precipitously. One of the two ranges of the Ancestral Rockies was called Uncompahgria, and geologists surmise the existing plateau to be the underlying bedrock of that now-erased mountain range. In the heart of Tabeguache Canyon, hikers quickly forget the serenity of the aspen forests on the benchlands above. Here, along unruly Tabeguache Creek, stately ponderosa pines line the streambank a thousand feet below forests of pinyon and juniper. This is an unusual reversal of the normal succession of life zones, for normally pinyon-juniper areas precede ponderosas in elevation. Cool mountain air flowing down the canyon carries the biological characteristics of the uplands with it and causes this upside-down reversal of life zones. Consequently, hikers descending from Pinto Mesa find themselves passing downward from the Upper Sonoran Zone into the Transition Zone. This trail guide includes descriptions of Indian Trail, North Fork Tabeguache Creek, Lower Tabeguache Creek, and Indian Trail to Lower Tabeguache Creek.
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Directions to: Tabeguache Area Trailsprint directions
Trail Statistics & Information
|Skill Level||Easy to Strenuous|
|Season||Best Spring through Fall|
|Trailhead Elevation||5,600 ft|
|Top Elevation||8,900 ft|
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