Mesa Creek Trail | Curecanti

Mesa Creek Trail is a short, beautiful trail in Curecanti National Recreation Area. We loved this trail because it borders right on Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. If you went to the park and were disappointed that it was so difficult to get down to the waters edge, then Mesa Creek Hike is for you. It sits just outside the national park, and lets you walk right along the river with the black canyon walls towering above you.

How to find Mesa Creek

Mesa Creek Trail has its own turnoff in Curecanti. This is at Cimarron. There is a small area dedicated to trains right at the turn, which comes up on your left as you travel east toward Curecanti. We stopped and looked at a few signs and old train cars, but there wasn’t much to see.

This is the Cimarron area.
We did enjoy learning about the railroad history while walking around these old train cars.

Follow the road for about a mile and you come to another train suspended on a trestle on the left side of the road. This is a great photo opportunity. Just a little further is the trailhead parking lot.

It was interesting to see a train right in the middle of the canyon.

The Hike

As you park, you’ll notice the dam that creates Curecanti Reservoir. We were told that Curecanti was left out of Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park because of these dams. The trail hikes down and away from the dam. It crosses a beautiful bridge high above the water. Then, a second river flows into the first. When we visited, one river was clear, and the other was silty. Where they came together was really beautiful, and there was a definite line.

The Mesa Creek Trail is clearly marked.
The trail heads right down to the river.
You can walk closer to the dam, too, if you’d like.
The bridge is a fun part of this trail.
We looked for fish and birds from the bridge.
But the views from the bridge were gorgeous.

The Mesa Creek trail follows the river up toward Black Canyon of the Gunnison. We passed several fisherman, including one with a 20 inch rainbow trout. There were also plenty of birds. The trail was narrow, but not dangerously so. It runs above the river most of the way, and the beautiful emerald water twinkles along beside you.

The trail walks along the river.
It is fairly easy, but there are a few ups and downs and some rocks.
We did see an American Dipper.
The morning was a peaceful time to hike.
There are a few other smaller bridges along the trail.
We liked walking underneath these large rocks.
It is lovely to walk down at the bottom of the canyon.

Eventually, the trail drops do to the edge of the water and then, a rock wall makes it impossible to continue. This happens at about 0.7 miles from the trailhead. If you make it to this point, your hike will be close to a mile and a half, but you can stop at any point and turn around. We found this hike to be as pretty as any in Black Canyon of the Gunnison.

We are almost to the end here.
The views are beautiful along the way back, too.

The Mesa Creek Trail is 1.5 miles roundtrip and is easy. The trail is rocky, but there is little elevation gain. We hiked in the morning and it was beautiful weather. The scenery is lovely. If you are looking for another family-friendly trail in Curecanti National Recreation Area, check out Never Sink Trail. It is on the complete opposite end of the park. For more information on Curecanti, visit their website.

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