Cuchara Dike Trail LbNA # 48785
|Placed Date||Jul 10 2009|
THIS IS A VERY HARD LETTERBOX! Just warning you. Even with good directions, the trail isn't well marked and you kind of have to have been on it before to find it, or talk to the ranger station in La Veta to get good directions or a trail map to locate how to find the very top.
Along the Cuchara River Valley there are a number of stone dikes that stick out of the ground like the plates of a stegasaurus on his back. One of those dikes lies at the top of the ridge behind Cuchara and the various housing subdivisions along the north side of Hwy 12. We are hiking up to the top of one of these dikes and looking over the other side of it into the valley on the other side. There is a great view of West Peak (one of the two Spanish Peaks) from the top of this dike trail. And it is a great place to stop and have lunch or a photo.
From Cuchara, continue toward Trinidad on Hwy 12, the Highway of Legends. Between mile markers 18 and 19 (almost to 19) there is an entrance to the Spanish Peaks subdivision of cabins to the left, with a bank of mailboxes. That is the Aspen Avenue entrance. You follow this around, turning leftish onto Ponderosa. Not far along the road there is a road off to the right that heads upward a bit. Not sure what its name is, but you go up 100 yards and park in the little wide area at the foot of the Dike Trail. The trail name is marked, so if you get on a trail that does not have a Dike Trail sign, you are in the wrong spot.
Head up the Dike Trail, taking switchbacks as you go. It's a steady climb. Going at a reasonably slow pace, it takes about 40 minutes to get to the top. 20 minutes at a fairly aggressive pace. Back and forth you go, and when you get to a straightaway where you start to go downhill a little, you're almost there.
Keep walking, and soon you will see some wrinkly rocks on the right. A little further, and you see a rocky path up and bending around to the right a little, or you could take a sharp left switchback heading back down. That sharp left heads down for another 1 1/2 hour walk into the town of Cuchara. But what you want to do here is head up the rocky, gravelly path to the right. You can take the path down later if you like.
It gets pretty steep here. Wind your way up and around the big rocks at the top of the hill. Likely you will enter the little clearing and overlook point from the right side around some large boulders.
In the rocky clearing over near the edge that you can look over to see the other side, there is a single tree. Go to the tree. Turn around 180 degrees and face the tall rocks you just walked around to get here.
Directly in front of you is a flat rock face, subdivided into several rocks stuck together. The one on the right looks a bit like a diamond, or a head of broccoli. It's pretty big. Behind it is a dead tree. Climb up around the head of broccoli on the right side. Directly behind it on the right side in a crevice filled with loose rocks and driftwood lies the letterbox. It is a rubbermaid box sealed in a freezer ziploc bag. Please be sure to return it to the place you found it. And pat yourself on the back - that is not an easy place to find!