Monday, May 27, 2019

Grape Creek

After exploring the headwaters of the Arkansas River, Zebulon Pike ventured south into Spanish territory. No one really knows why. Was he lost? Was he trying to fill in the map? Was he a spy? Whatever his motivation, it must have been strong, as he and his men set out (from what would become Canon City) along Grape Creek on a cold morning in January, 1807.  After reaching the Wet Mountain Valley, they would cross the Sangre de Cristo Mountains through Medano Pass (10,040' January!) and eventually reach the San Luis Valley. He was arrested by Spanish authorities, held in Mexico for a time and then released in Louisiana. Today, you can retrace his steps on a portion of Grape Creek on the western edge of Temple Canyon Park. The trail follows the route of an old railroad line that ran briefly between Canon City and Westcliffe in the 1880s. A small portion of the trail lies within private property and is fenced, so unfortunately you can't travel very far going south from Temple Canyon Road (~0.5 mile), but the views make the trip worthwhile.

For more history of the railroad and for descriptions and photos of Temple Canyon, click here.

Directions: Getting to Temple Canyon Park can be a challenge depending on the condition of the road. Although only 7.6 miles from the corner of US-50 and 1st St., the last 5 miles are not paved and many areas are prone to deep ruts from runoff. A high-clearance vehicle is recommended. Head south on 1st St., passed the Robison Mansion and Greenwood Cemetery for about one mile and then, at the "Y" turn right onto Temple Canyon Road. Proceed for 6.5 miles to a parking area next to the bridge over Grape Creek. 

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