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Section 3: Trip Nine

The Hog Park Loop Road from Riverside to Encampment

 

Open Google Map at GPS Coordinates:

 
Beginning: 41.218034, -106.764797
     Ending: 41.176586, -106.893634
 

This trip begins by turning off W-230 at mile #101 east of Riverside. As you head south on the Blackhall Mountain Road (C-211), you can see Vulcan Mountain to the west, and above Baggot Rock to the north is Elk Mountain and Pennock Mountain. To the northeast is Kennaday Peak and to the east is Medicine Bow Peak and the Snowy Range Mountains. The road climbs up along Cottonwood Creek and crosses it after four miles. The road continues to climb to an overlook above Purgatory Gulch. Here you can see the Encampment River to the south. The trees here are spruce, fir, aspen, limber pine, and lodgepole pine.

You enter the forest boundary after one mile and begin traveling on NF-409 (beautiful overlooks along this drive). The road loops around and you begin traveling above the Dunkard Creek drainage and then above Etna Creek on the east side of the divide. The road turns back to the south where you can see Blackhall Mountain above Billie Creek. A bit further, you drop down to a junction. Here you can take NF-409 southeast to the Blackhall Lookout and Colorado #125.

Turn southwest on the Rim Road (NF-496) toward Hog Park Reservoir (15 miles). You cross a few tributaries of Billie Creek and after leaving that drainage, the road crosses Cascade Creek. Two miles further, you pass above the Box Canyon drainage and you can see Willow Mountain off to the west. After about three miles, the road drops down to the East Fork Encampment River. One mile after crossing the river, you come to a junction at Commissary Park, Colorado (a gravel road freeway). The road east (#80) goes to Cowdrey, Colorado (35 miles).

Turn west across the Encampment River on NF-496 and past the Encampment River Wilderness trailhead. After leaving the river, the road passes through some meadows, crosses South Fork Hog Park Creek, and goes by the Lake View Campground Road. Continue north past the dam and across Hog Park Creek to the next junction. Here you can take NF-550 southwest to Steamboat Springs (52 miles).

Take NF-550 north toward Encampment. The road climbs up the side of Willow Mountain where you cross Olson Creek and Brady Creek. The road continues to climb for a couple of miles and you come to a small park below Willow Mountain. Here you can see Kennaday, Pennack, and Elk Mountains to the north. To the east is Blackhall Mountain.

You then cross North Soldier Creek and the road drops down a bit to South Miners Creek. Two miles further, you cross North Fork Miners Creek and begin passing below Green Mountain to the Halfway House. Here you continue dropping down along Willow Creek to the North Fork Encampment River.

Two miles from the river crossing, you hit W-70 at mile #51. Here you can turn west, past the Bottle Creek Campground (100 yards), and travel over to Baggs (see page 51). Turn east for six miles to W-230 at Encampment.

Commissary Park and the trailhead into the Encampment River Wilderness.