A long, open meadow or cienega bordered by tall spruce, fir, and aspen trees invites you to explore this upland backcountry trail. The moist environs of this pleasant forest grassland support a diverse community of wildflowers and provide a good place to see just about any species of wildlife that lives in the Blue Country uplands. Elk, mule deer, black bear, and other animals known to inhabit the Alpine District are seen here about as regularly as anywhere on the district.
As the trail and the small stream it follows leave Long Cienega for Grant Creek, the forest closes in and the streambed drops into a shallow but steadily deepening canyon. Moisture loving tree species cluster along the canyon floor to mark the completion of the transformation from upland meadow to canyon riparian area. As the stream and trail continue their course toward Grant Creek, the canyon narrows even more and the trail becomes rough and rocky. At 3 miles from the trailhead, the trail climbs to the top of a juniper studded bench of conglomerated bedrock and tops off the hike with an overlook of Grant Creek and beyond.
No mechanized vehicles (including mountain bikes) permitted in Primitive area. Grant Creek is a reliable source of water. The Long Cienega Trail is NOT recommended for horse use.
0.0 Junction with Steeple Trail #73 in Long Cienega.
2.8 Trail climbs out of drainage to the left.
3.0 High point of trail overlooking Grant Creek
3.3 Junction with Upper Grant Creek Trail #65 (after a very steep descent).
USGS Maps: Strayhorse
One-Way Notice: This hike is listed as One-Way. When you hike several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.
To hike Long Cienega Trail is accessible only via other backcountry trails. Steeple Trail #73 leads to its upper trailhead. Upper Grant Creek #65 and Grant Cabin Shortcut #306 lead to its lower trailhead. For the most convenient access, drive south on US 191 to the south end Hannagan Meadow and turn left (east) to the Steeple/Foote Creek Trailhead. Hike Steeple Creek Trail about 2.9 miles to Long Cienega Trailhead.
Warning: heat kills!
Avoid 8am to 6pm over 90 degrees. Prehydrate & stay hydrated. Avoid Heat Illness - do NOT hike when temps exceed 100 degrees, period.