Dome Rock Trail Ride Report - August 2023
This is a Co state wildlife area which requires a hunting, fishing, or SWA day pass to access. The shorter sand creek loop is approx a 2 hour ride and is open year round. The longer loop which actually goes by the Dome Rock itself, is a 4 hour loop and is only open mid-July through November. The closed times are to protect the bighorn sheep in the area. This is one of our favorite rides.
Location - just outside of Divide, CO right past Mueller state park. The trail actually connects to Mueller state park as well. If you choose to go that route it is an out and back and is approximately a 6 hour ride. (this report is not about that trail route). Here is a link to the parking lot - https://goo.gl/maps/L418HxyNfoRfYm3V9
The ride can be done in either direction. We recommend going counter-clockwise which will start along the river and then will end going up hill. You can also do the other direction, which would mean the steep parts are on the downhill and you would end along the river. The ride is beautiful and varied with some sustained elevation gain. The valley portion is beautiful and follows the river between some high rocky sides. The view of the Dome rock itself is worth the long loop. There are a few water crossings along the way. It also has some technical areas after dome rock (if you're going counter-clockwise) as it ascends out of the valley. There are beautiful aspen forests which are gold in the fall and filled with colombines in the spring. The ride goes along the ridge at the top of the valley with grand views and winds down to a large meadow valley before returning on the loop to the parking lot (again if going counter-clockwise).
Hazards: sometimes there can be downed aspens so having a back-country saw is recommended. For the most part, it is kept open. Sometimes the willows by the river can be overgrown and present some challenges finding the trail. The single track on the way up out of the valley can have a few places with tricky footwork but not too bad.
The turnoff has a small SWA sign. There are 2 lots which can fit rigs of large size. There were 10 trailers when we visited and there was still room for more. We arrived about 10am on Saturday in August. The entry to the parking lot is a short dirt turnoff which is a bit steep but is safe. If the hiker cars park weird it can block some of the parking spaces but usually there are not many hikers even on weekends.