This pages covers the trails that lie to the west of the house. (This is currently still a work in progress!)
This trail (denoted by the red square bracket) starts after you cross the wash south of the bottom of the dog run. After passing nest box #28 on the right and just before you get to the white rocks marking the southern terminus of the White Rocks Trail, you head west and walk along the south side of the hill of cryptogamic soil. Watch for the sign on the left (1st photo below); the trail there heads south toward nest box #45 and turns east just as you reach that box. The trail soon turns south again (2nd photo below); follow it down and then up the north face of the Bench Ridge. After veering west, the trail makes a steady diagonal across the ridge face. About halfway up, a cairn marks a steep, rugged set of switchbacks that offer a shortcut to the top of the Bench Ridge (3rd photo below). Near the top, the Oak Grove Trail comes in from the north. The Bullsnake Trail ends at the switchbacks on the south (4th photo below), marking the western terminus of the Bench Ridge Trail. Click on any photo for a larger, much more viewable version.
This trail got its name during a walk we took with our dogs. Heading up the trail, we heard an ominous rattling. Thinking immediately of a rattlesnake, we screeched to a halt and called the dogs to us. As we watched, a large Bullsnake (Pituophis catenifer, now considered a subspecies of Gopher Snake) made its way across the path. Looking into it later, we found that a Bullsnake can make rattling noises, imitating a rattlesnake. We were thankful to also find out that they are non-venomous and do a lot of good in keeping the rodent population in check. Unfortunately, they can also climb trees and depredate the many nest boxes on our property. Win some, lose some…
This property doesn’t have many oaks; but the Oak Grove Trail meanders through one of the larger collections of oak (hence the name), making it a shady path in the dead of summer. It starts the same way the Bullsnake Trail does; where the Bullsnake Trail heads to the south toward nest box #45, you continue up the ATV trail until you see the trail sign on the left, around nest box #90 (photo below, left). You climb on a few switchbacks, cross the Bench Ridge ATV trail on the Jug Ridge (photo below, right), and head down to the junction of the Bullsnake and Bench Ridge Trails. An unnamed cut-off trail heads to the west from one of the switchbacks, leading to the eponymous broken jug at the top of the Jug Ridge, which lies north of the Bench Ridge.
This trail is named for the bench at the top of the ridge. (Although there are now several benches scattered around, this was the first bench we put out.) You can see the house from the bench; if the sun is just right and the river is high, you can sometimes catch a glimpse of the Arkansas River from the bench. Click on the photo below, left, and you can see the bench off in the distance in the upper left corner
The Bench Ridge Trail begins, on the west, at the switchbacks at the western end of the Bullsnake Trail. (Click here to see the photos under the Bullsnake Trail write-up; click on the furthest right photo to see this junction.) Watch for a small path through some small oaks at the end of the 2nd switchback; the trail heads around the ridge and toward the east along the ridge. The path isn’t clearly marked, but as long as you stay near the ridge top, you’ll be fine. As you come out of the trees, you might spot a small cairn on the left, which denotes the steep (and rather rough) shortcut down to the Bullsnake Trail. Continue to follow the ridge and you see the eponymous bench to the left at the middle trail sign (photo below, left). The path continues east (photo below, middle) around the edge of the ridge and heads down the ridge in a series of switchbacks. Where nest box #81 shows up on your left, the White Rocks Trail comes in from the left (photo below, right). Turn right and the remaining switchbacks take you down to the wash where the Hudson Trail begins. (Click here to for the Eastern Trails write-ups, where the Hudson Trail is described.) For a nice loop, you can cross the wash and take the Hudson Trail back to 10 Points; alternatively, you can walk to the northwest up the wash to get back to the dog run and the house.
This trail connects with the Bench Ridge Trail where the switchbacks from the ridge end and the Bench Ridge Trail heads down to the wash. It begins just beyond where the ATV 2 track crosses the wash and turns to the west to go up the Bench Ridge. A pile of eponymous white rocks on either side of the path (photo below, left) marks the northern terminus of the White Rocks Trail. (If you see nest box #30 on the left, you’ve gone just a bit too far.) This path passes the 2nd Douglas-fir on the left under a pinyon, protected from wildlife with a bit of fencing (photo below, middle). You then cross an small patch of cryptogamic soil on a deer trail—stay on the path here to protect the fragile soil! After crossing another faint ATV 2 track, the path veers left to end where the Bench Ridge Trail switchbacks end (photo below, right). This is the southern terminus of the White Rocks Trail; the Bench Ridge Trail continues down to the wash and connects with the Hudson Trail on the other side.
Still to come:
- Dog Run Trail
- Jug cut-off
- Saw-whet switchbacks