In my experience wilderness areas on our national forest are not often secrets. Sure, they are not the most traveled areas but the main trails in them generally have no lack of human traffic, especially on beautiful holiday weekends. One has to be careful where they choose to visit on Labor Day weekend. The potential for large crowds clogging up your favorite trails and spots is enough to give me second thoughts of taking trips over the holiday weekends in the summer.
Luckily there on some spots left, even right off of the main road, that are seldom traveled. This spot is tucked between multiple highly trafficked areas. Sandwiched between a national parks who bear the brunt of a tourist weekend and save places like this from ever getting too crowded.
What a special spot it is, high sandstone walls colored a variety of pastel tans, pinks and oranges. The most impressive part of the walls though are the Ponderosa Pines clinging to the edges. Not just little trees but some large trees that have no right to be eeking a living out of that tiny amount of soil. The valley bottom has a thick riparian corridor of cottonwoods bordered by juniper and Douglas Fir. Huge yellow bellied pines shade the fringe of the canyon. From a hiking perspective this often hard to follow trail is a gem, then you throw a creek with rising trout in and it gets that much better.
I don’t think I’ll ever be able to get over catching trout in a southwestern canyon. The two things seem like they ought to be separate of each other, like oil and water they can be close but not mixed. Fortunately this stereotype is often wrong in the southwest and two of my favorite things, trout and canyons, can coexist.