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The Sheep Creek drainage has several unique features which make it attractive to day hikers. It shows two examples of ecological succession, one following fire and one following an insect infestation.

The Sheep Creek Trail begins along the Conejos River within the montane forest ecosystem. Ponderosa pine dominate the forest while Douglas-fir and aspen are scattered throughout. As the trail heads west towards Sheep Creek, it enters an aspen forest which was established after the Osier Burn of 1879. The aspen were infested with tent caterpillars in the 1950's. The ground is covered by dead and fallen aspen, and a diverse cover of herbs and shrubs now dominates the slopes. Young aspen are scattered, beginning the successional cycle.

The trail ends on the divide between Sheep and Osier Creeks affording a good view down Osier Creek into the Rio de los Pinos Valley.
The Sheep Creek Trail provides an ideal day hike for visitors in the Conejos River Canyon, especially those camping at Aspen Glade Campground. In a short distance, the trail passes through several different ecosystems, provides views of the Conejos Valley, and provides opportunities for observing wildlife.

Elk are quite abundant in the area, and the drainage is a portion of the herds calving grounds. The drainage also includes examples of both montane and subalpine ecosystems.

Drinking water is available from Sheep Creek throughout the summer, but should be treated before consumption.

Directions: From Antonito, Colorado, Follow Highway 17 to the River Springs Work Center, 15.0 miles west of Antonito. Trailhead parking is available at River Springs. Walk approximately 0.25 mile to the end of the access road where the hiker must cross the Conejos River. Fording of the River is not recommended during spring runoff. The Sheep Creek Trail begins on the south bank of the river.

Elevation: 8,450 feet

Ending Elevation: 10,400 feet

Elevation Gain: 1,950 feet

Usage: Light

Difficulty: Moderate

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Rio Grande National Forest, Colorado

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The details, dates, and prices mentioned here were accurate at the time of publication.

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