Sept 7th, 2014
This trail was one that my sister Sally and her husband Tracy had told us about from their time in Colorado earlier this Summer. The trail gets its name from the creek that the trail follows, I don’t know where the creek’s name came from, but one just has to love something that beckons “Oh Be Joyful”!
This hike was rated as “easy” with a gradual incline of 0-400 feet of elevation gain per mile. It is an out and back hike, and we were planning on covering about 4 miles out before we turned around. We would start at an elevation of 9,295 feet and end at 9,980 feet, gaining only 695 feet. All of this hike would be at a lower elevation than our other hikes had started at.
Note- One could add a moderate section of trail and go on to Blue lake, at 5.5 miles out, or even make a much longer loop hike. Today, however, we just wanted a nice, pleasant hike……not too challenging.
To get to this trailhead, we drove about 20 minutes out of Crested Butte to the Slate River Campground. There, you are faced with either wading across, or driving across the Slate River at this shallow crossing to get to the trailhead. The water level was low enough that we opted to drive across and keep our feet dry.
Note- This picture was taken after we had driven back across in the afternoon. I was a bit too ‘nervous’ to think of getting a picture on our first crossing.
From there, the ‘road’ was supposed to go an additional .8 of a mile before we were to park at the trailhead. The guide noted “If you park at the river, add an additional 1.6 miles (round trip) and 350 feet elevation to this hike.” We had decided to see if we could drive on to the trailhead, when, at just .1 miles later, we encountered this mud hole.
Perhaps we could get through this without getting stuck (we do have 4 wheel drive) but……getting stuck would really mess up our plans for the day! We decided to just park here and walk the rest of the way.
The roadbed looked pretty good in spots….but then would become VERY narrow and rutted. We were glad that we had decided to walk, though we did see a few AWD cars or trucks parked along this section.
The Oh Be Joyful trail meandered in and out of the wooded area…….We had to occasionally divert around the muddy tracts left by the horses and riders which also could use this trail. But, the overall trail was very nice, and the woods were cool and serene.
The trail would open up to the rock edge…….Here is a glimpse of Fall coming with the changing colors of the Aspens.
The Oh Be Joyful Creek ran below us…….
With waterfalls tumbling along the way……..
I later read where, during times of high water, kayakers would run this 1 mile stretch of the creek. The pictures of them flying over these falls with the creek swollen 2-3 times this size………..Glad that is not me!
The trail emerged onto this wide valley, strewn with driftwood. They call this the ‘Avalanche Valley’. I think that the downed trees that we saw must have been uprooted during an avalanche.
We had been keeping our eyes out for any wildlife, but other than a few chipmunks or ground squirrels, and a few birds, we did not see anything. We know that there must be coyote in the area……We have heard them at night from our camper.
But this, was the closest that we came to spotting a coyote!
The trail was mostly flat, with a packed dirt surface, and easy walking. The views were breathtaking! And on this trail, I can truthfully say that it was the views, not the altitude, taking our breath! That is Scarp Ridge in the distance. Our last hike had been on the other side of that ridge.
We stopped to take a picture of this sign, noting the wilderness area. This trail, as a number of the area trails, crossed private property, local ‘Land Use’ areas, and National Wilderness areas. Recreational land is a wonderful resource and I am glad that we can still access such beautiful wild lands.
Our destination for the morning was a stream crossing – noted in the trail guide to be at about 4 miles from where we had started our hike. It was 11:30 am, we had hiked about 2.5 hours, and it was time for lunch. A peanut butter sandwich and pretzels always tastes so good on a hike! : )
After a nice 1/2 hour or so break, we picked up and headed back.
The return trail seemed to fly under our feet. We were back to our truck by 2:15pm. Total mileage, about 8.25 miles in 5.25 hours (including breaks). This was a lovely day spent hiking a beautiful trail! Thanks Sally and Tracy for the recommendation!