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Horsethief Trail #215 - Bridge of Heaven
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mini location map2020-09-29
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Horsethief Trail #215 - Bridge of HeavenWest, CO
West, CO
Hiking avatar Sep 29 2020
Hiking8.20 Miles 2,967 AEG
Hiking8.20 Miles   8 Hrs   16 Mns   0.99 mph
2,967 ft AEG
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
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This was an out-and-back hike on Horsethief Trail to a viewpoint called Bridge of Heaven. The trailhead is reached by driving up Dexter Creek Road from HW550. The Dexter Creek Rd (Co Ro 14) turnoff from HW550 is about 2 miles north of the town of Ouray. The road is 2WD capable maintained gravel for the 2.4 miles up to the Dexter Creek Trailhead. From there it crosses the creek (no bridge) which could be a problem if the creek is running high and for the next 1.2 miles it is mostly one car wide with rough sections requiring high clearance and possibly 4WD. Meeting another car coming from the other direction could require one of you to back up some distance to a place wide enough for 2 cars to pass each other. Because of this, many people choose to hike the extra 1.2 miles (2.4 round trip) from the small parking area at the Dexter Creek Trailhead. I chose to drive to the trailhead and take advantage of one of the dispersed campsites along the road just past the TH. I arrived late in the afternoon and only 3 cars were parked in the small lot near the TH. There is private property near the TH and I wasn't sure where I could camp without intruding on private land. Fortunately a couple of nice ladies were just finishing up their hike when I arrived and quickly cleared up the private property issue. They were locals and frequent hikers so one of them had an app on her smart phone with a topo map that showed up-to-date private land boundaries along with your current gps location. I picked the only one of the two campsites that had a view and had a quiet night with not another soul within sight.

The next morning I didn't get started on the hike until 9:00 am but there were still no new arrivals at the TH since the night before. This trail is obviously not heavily used compared to other trails in the Ouray area. The trail starts out with a modest upward grade through a thick mixed forest of conifers and Aspens. Numerous viewpoints are available along the way of the Uncompahgre River valley/canyon, the town of Ouray and the mountain ranges beyond to the west and north. Combine the views with the light traffic and you have a great hike. The well maintained trail continues at a steady climb with frequent switch backs where needed to maintain a modest grade. The name, "Bridge of Heaven", had me expecting something more exiting that a bare gravel and dirt saddle on top of a ridge but the views were amazing if not a little hazy from distant wildfires.

I was taking a break for a snack and a needed rest at the BOH when a twenty-something young man showed up. After some chit-chat he suggested that perhaps I might not be able to make it back to the trailhead before dark and asked if I had a headlamp. I had left the headlamp in my car because I had no doubt that I would be returning before dark. However this young fellow seemed worried that someone of my advanced age might not make it back in time. He offered to let me use his headlamp. I could leave it at the Dexter Creek TH where he would pick it up the next morning. Rather than argue I decided to humor his generosity and accepted the headlamp saying I would hide it under a rock at the base of the Dexter Creek TH sign. This somehow seemed to relieve his concerns and he departed down the trail. I made it back to the TH at 5pm well before dark so didn't need the headlamp. I camped again that night near the TH and departed early the next morning depositing the headlamp under a rock at the TH sign. A mile down the road from the Dexter Creek TH I stopped for some reason probably related to the frequency of pit stops required by men of my age. The young man drove by and recognizing me, stopped. I described where I had stashed his headlamp, told him I appreciated his concern, and all was good.
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