Southern Loop (Gate 5)

  • Rating: Moderate

  • Distance: 12-mile Loop

  • Elevation

    • Trailhead: 7,580 feet

    • Max: 7980 feet

    • Min: 7450 feet

    • Gain: 960 feet

  • Trailhead Directions: Upper Rim Trail (#312), 6.4 miles northwest of Pagosa Springs)

  • Trail Map

  • Road Status: North Pagosa Blvd - open year-round

  • Notes: Bike, hike, or trail run.  Great views/picnic spots along the canyon rims.

Newt Jack Trail

Newt Jack Trail

Round Park

Round Park

Round Park

Round Park

Round Park

Round Park

Glacier Lily

Glacier Lily

Eastern Range

Eastern Range

oak brush hill

oak brush hill

Gate 5: Martinez Creek

Gate 5: Martinez Creek

Upper Rim Trail

Upper Rim Trail

Upper Rim Trail

Upper Rim Trail

Upper Rim Trail

Upper Rim Trail

Located 6.4 miles northwest of Pagosa Springs, Upper Rim Trail begins at Gate 5, which is one of the most popular routes in the area because it's short, accessible, and offers great views of Martinez Canyon.  If the Upper and Lower Rims aren't enough, you can get more miles and views by extending the loop by visiting Round Park and the Lower Gopher Meadow.  To do the loop counter-clockwise, veer right onto Upper Rim Trail and travel away from the canyon rim.  After 0.3 miles, take a right onto Newt Jack Trail and ascend the bedrock sandstone to the junction with Bear Trail at mile 0.8.  Bear Trail is short and connects with Catamount Trail at mile 1.0. Take a left on Catamount and descend the smooth trail into a shallow canyon lined with aspen.  Continue past Creek Trail and cross a rocky, seasonal creekbed, which may be flowing until June.  After the creekbed, climb out of the canyon to the Round Park junction, a hard right at mile 1.8.

           

Climb steadily to Round Park, which is a large, green fen containing a frog-filled stock pond.  After a short climb out of Round Park, take a left onto Aspen Run Trail at mile 2.7 and steadily climb to Brockover Road.  Cross over Brockover Road (mile 3.5) and crest the high point, and you'll quickly begin a fun, 1-mile descent through a narrow canyon. 

 

At mile 4.9, Aspen Run will T with Gopher Trail at a lush meadow.   Take a left onto Gopher Trail and parallel the seasonal creek to its junction with another canyon.  The trail drops into the canyon and begins a 0.5-mile climb as it traverses the seasonal creek and for a little while becomes one with the creekbed.  Once you climb out of the canyon, you'll pass the Brockover Trail junction on your left.  Continue on Lower Gopher Trail and descend 1.3 miles to the "T" with Lower Rim Trail at mile 7.5.  Take a right on Lower Rim Trail and you'll reach the Martinez Canyon Rim at mile 8.0 with great views toward the Oakbrush Hill and the Parelli Ranch.  

Enjoy great views of the Eastern Range and then the Northern Range as you parallel the edge of the canyon rim for another mile (this is my favorite section of the route).  At mile 8.8, you'll reach the Powerline Meadow, and take a right at the "T" onto the Powerline Trail (Lower Rim and Powerline merge briefly).  After about 100 feet, take a left onto Lower Rim and cross the lower section of the Powerline Meadow. Traverse and then climb out of the Powerline Meadow and then drop into a shallow canyon and cross the streambed.  Shortly after the crossing, take a right at the trail junction onto the Creek Trail at mile 9.5 and climb out of the shallow canyon.  The trail will T at the Upper Rim Trail.  You can take a left or right to get back to Gate 5.  Left is shorter, smoother, with less climbing (1.6 miles back to Gate 5), and right is rockier, slightly longer, but has nice canyon views (2.4 miles back to Gate 5).  If you have energy left, take a right onto Upper Rim and follow the rocky edge of Martinez Canyon back to Gate 5. 

 
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