N. Piedra Stock Driveway

The Piedra Stock Driveway is one of Pagosa's historical trails used by sheep farmers and had for all practical purposes disappeared. It had been neglected for many years and was in some areas completely overgrown. The Pagosa Area Trails Council (PATC) completed clearing this old trail in the summer of 2009.  This section of the Piedra Stock Driveway is also part of National Forest Trail #583.  It runs north-south for approximately 6.5 miles along Trail Ridge and Trail Creek.  The northern trailhead is near the junction of Piedra Road (Forest Road 631) and Williams Creek Road (FR 640).  The route described here also incorporates about 2.5 miles of the Piedra River Trail #596 (see photo below).


Mountain bikers:  you will be hiking your bike for nearly all of the first three-quarters of a mile -- and again during the descent into the Piedra River valley.  If you are not into pushing your bike, consider the alternative Piedra Stock Driveway route detailed on this Web site.

 

 
Note:
Be aware that this route is not a well-marked "urban trail."  Go there with a Boy Scout mindset:  be prepared with map, compass,
GPS, extra clothing, cell phone, water and whatever else you’ll need to stay safe in the forest.
 

Directions to the Trail Head:


The N. Piedra Stock Driveway trail head is near the junction of Piedra Road (Forest Road 631) and Williams Creek Road (FR 640).  This junction is about 16 miles north of the first cattle guard where Piedra Road enters the San Juan National Forest and becomes a dirt road (see map at the upper right).


Trail Notes (also available in PDF format at the bottom of this page):


  • The trailhead is in the grassy, hilly meadow just southwest of the junction of FR 631 and FR 640 (the corner taking you to Williams Creek Reservoir).  The trail is really nonexistent through the meadow hillside.  You need to climb up the grassy hill going south following a sequence of several orange signs on steel posts.  These signs are orange, plastic diamonds with a directional arrow on them.  You may also see a few old yellow metal Stock Driveway signs later along the trail. 
  • After about 1/4 mile the signs lead you into the forest and a trail emerges as it continues steeply uphill.   After about .75 miles the trail starts to level out and you can start pedaling.  You will soon reach the top of the ridge (Trail Ridge) with nice views of the Weminuche Valley to the right (west) and Toner Mountain and Pagosa Peak to your left (east).  All of a sudden the climb up seems worth the effort.
  • The trail continues southward along the crest of the ridge for almost a mile and a half.  Take time to enjoy the views. 
  • At mile 2.47 you pass through a gate in a wire fence and the trail angles downhill to your right.
  • At mile 2.77 you intersect an old dirt road (FR 639-H).  Very soon afterward (mile 2.89) the Stock Driveway bears right into the trees off the dirt road and passes to the left of a small pond (Trail Ridge Reservoir).  Continue to look for orange trail markers nailed to trees. 
  • The trail continues southward in the valley that drains the pond, along Trail Creek.  There are several braided game/cattle trails here.  It really doesn’t matter much which one you follow as long as you follow the drainage.
  • At mile 4.18 the trail enters a big meadow and crosses a well-defined dirt road (FR 639-F).
  • To continue southward on the Piedra Stock Driveway, cross the road and look for the trail which continues downhill (following the same drainage) along the left side of the big meadow. 

Note:  If you want to “bail” at this point, look at the notes for “Alternate Route to the N. Piedra Stock Driveway and Sally’s Overlook” and turn left onto FR 639-F.

  • At mile 4.36 the trail passes by another pond which will be on your left.  Continue down the trail keeping the Trail Creek drainage on your left. The trail eventually leaves the big meadow and continues along the right side of Trail Creek. 
  • At mile 5.71 you cross to the left side of Trail Creek and look for blue markers which will lead you around the side of the hill.  After about a mile you will be looking down at the Piedra River and the Piedra River Trail (#596).  There is currently no discernable trail for this final descent to the Piedra River and the intersection with the Piedra River Trail.  Mountain bikers will again be hiking their bikes down this loose and rocky hill.
  • You intersect the Piedra River Trail at mile 6.73.  Turn left (northeast) and follow the well-defined trail.
  • At mile 9.38 you intersect Piedra Road (FR 631).  Turn left (north) and follow this road back to the trailhead.
  • At mile 15 you will complete the loop.
The map below shows the location of the N. Piedra Stock Driveway Trail Head

Note:  You should be able to manipulate the Google map, below, to zoom in, click and drag, and see different terrain and satellite images.
 

N. Piedra Stock Driveway TH


 
 
Note:  To download and print the map below (and/or the route instructions) see the attached PDF files at the bottom of this page.


 

Note:  If you do the complete loop that brings you to the Piedra River Trail, you need to be able to identify poison oak.  It is quite plentiful along the river trail.

 

Poison-oak is usually a shrub, though it sometimes becomes a vine several inches in diameter that grows high into the oak trees attached by air-roots. The leaves DO come in threes. They are shiney, without prickers, and the middle leaf has a distinct stalk (see photo below).



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Tom Steen,
Jul 7, 2010, 1:32 PM
Ċ
Tom Steen,
Jul 7, 2010, 1:33 PM
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