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Ice Cave Ridge Geology Hike – Pagosa

September 19 @ 9:00 am - 12:00 pm

For the first time, SJMA in conjunction with the US Forest Service, Pagosa Ranger District, is hosting educational geology hikes, free for the public, from May through October. These interpretive hikes, led and presented by geologist Dave Bouquett, will be in an area of the San Juan National Forest rich with evidence of earth’s geologic history from some of the area’s oldest metamorphic rocks, to Cretaceous seaways, to Tertiary volcanoes, to modern glacial deposits.

Fissuring Out the Past – Ice Cave Ridge
When you hear the term “ice cave”, thoughts of dripping ice-encrusted stalactites clinging to the icy blue  ceiling of a glacial cavern may come to mind. This hike is not that, yet it’s equally as fascinating. Not really caves, these are more like giant cracks; fissures in the underlying Dakota sandstone. Varying in size from one to eight feet wide, up to a hundred feet long and 30 feet deep, these chasms are cool year-round and often hold snow well into the summer. Layers of rock tell a story as old as time. Your guide will briefly explain regional geology and Morrison, Dakota and Mancos stratigraphy (Jurassic/Cretaceous) and also explain theory for the origin of ice caves. As they drive to/from the trailhead over a dusty, gravel, county- maintained road, visitors will be treated to beautiful vistas of the San Juan Mountains.

This is a loop route, off trail, with steep, rocky terrain near high cliffs. Hike time is approximately 3 hours total, 3.5 miles round trip, and about 500 ft. vertical ascent. We will finish at the parking lot around noon, and there is a picnic area nearby if you wish to bring your own lunch to eat after the hike.

When: September 19, 2024, 9am – 12pm

Where:  The group will initially gather at the Coyote Hill trailhead on County Road 600 (Piedra Road), then travel together to a point just before the Piedra River trailhead. The group will then proceed to the Piedra River trailhead where both hikes will commence. Allow at least 25 minutes of driving time from downtown Pagosa Springs to the Coyote Hill trailhead where we’ll meet. From Highway 160 at the traffic light near milepost 141, go north on County Road 600 (Piedra Rd.) aprox. 6.5 miles to the Coyote Hill trailhead, located on the right just past the cattle guard where the paved road turns to maintained gravel.

What to Bring:
Layers of cool & warm clothing
Water (1/2 to 1 liter per hour),
Sturdy, supportive footwear
Rain jacket or poncho
Hiking Daypack
Sunscreen & sunglasses

Cost: Free, $10 donation is greatly appreciated!

NOTE: Although pets are allowed in the national forest, we ask that pets be left at home as a courtesy to the other guests in the group.

Registration is required.


September 19
9:00 am - 12:00 pm
Event Category: