Looking down from Gulley-Ridge Trail

Ashcroft hiking trails - a personal look at the wonderful hiking trails in the Ashcoft area.

by Andrea Walker

Confined passageways and wide open vistas make this hike quite interesting.

Beginning at the end of Heustis Drive in the Mesa, the trail heads up a short piece of the Inukshuk Trail at a steady incline until reaching the actual trailhead. An old buried car marks the start of the trail that heads up the streambed and gulley that has been formed over many years. Hiking poles and well treaded hiking shoes definitely give one an added advantage on this hike.

As this is an old streambed that is the result of flash flooding over many years, rocks of various sizes have been tumbled and strewn, making footing challenging at times. As you wind up the streambed keeping to the left, the gulley begins to become deeper and narrower. Close your eyes for a moment and imagine the thunder and power of the water as it carved its way through the original arroyo leaving in its wake, the steep sides and hoodoo-shaped pinnacles.

Upon reaching the top of the gulley, a wide expanse of meadow opens in front of you. Head to your right for a short distance and skirt around the end of the barbed wire fence. Not far along will be the top end of another gulley. Walk toward the hills and as the gulley recedes a marker will show where to cross to the opposite side. Now you will be able to hike along the ridge at the edge of the meadow.

To your left, the meadow extends to the base of the hills. To your right, the land falls away below you giving an ever-changing view of the subdivision, town and valley below. As you follow the crest of the ridge, watch for the many patches of cacti that love to grow amongst the sagebrush, the occasional wildflower and perhaps even a wily coyote.

Most of the trail along the ridge is a well worn path; however, there is one spot that begins a descent that requires careful foot placement – watch your step here.

By the time you have hiked high up above the Trailer Park, you will have neared the end of the upper ridge portion and will begin the descent down the ridge toward the highway. As you slide down the last bit of loose gravel, a large bushy juniper covered with an abundance of the most beautiful light blue berries marks the trail from here.

Follow what looks like a very old road to your right. Though not as well-defined as other areas, the path here is still visible winding through the sagebrush. An occasional inukshuk will let you know you are on the right track. You will dip down and up through a few more arroyos as you make your way back toward the Mesa subdivision.

Eventually you will come to a fence which has a well-worn path beside it. Follow the trail and It will lead you right back to the start of the gulley.