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Exploring Cold Spring Mountain

Cold Spring Mountain

Photo taken from Cold Springs Mountain by Kelly HowleCold Spring Mountain extends some 20 miles west to east with rough and steep south-facing slopes. Much of the area is characterized by draws and canyons that have cut the O-Wi-Yu-Kuts Plateau, forming a series of plateaus and ridges along the northern margins of Browns Park. Elevation ranges from 5688 feet in the south to 8600 feet in the northeast near Irish Canyon.  

Access: The area is accessible from and lies north of Colorado Highway 318 in Browns Park. Vehicle access to the top is available by turning onto Moffat County Road 10N to the north. Travel through Irish Canyon to County Road 72 (approximately 15 miles from Colorado 318). County Road 72 (a gravel road) provides access to the top of Cold Spring Mountain as well as Diamond Peak and Middle Mountain.

Camping: The small Rocky Reservoir campground is located in an aspen grove off of a steep road to Diamond Peak and has five campsites with tables, fire grates, and a pit toilet. No water is available in the area.

Vehicle Use: Vehicle use is limited to designated roads and trails. No cross country vehicle use is allowed. Use caution when traveling on backcountry roads as some county roads and BLM roads are not maintained and are not passable during winter or when wet or muddy conditions exist. High clearance vehicles recommended.

Hiking: Beaver Creek Canyon along the Utah border provides an excellent area for hiking or backpacking. A cattle trail extends the length of the canyon and Beaver Creek supports a trout fishery. The rugged Matt Trail also provides a challenging hiking route up or down the south face of the mountain. Spring hiking is good in the lower elevations, with summer and fall hiking at higher elevations. Both of these trails are closed to motorized vehicles.

Mountain Biking: Numerous primitive roads and trails east and west of Irish Canyon provide challenging opportunities for mountain biking or equestrian use.

Wildlife: Bighorn sheep reside in the Beaver Creek Canyon area. Mule deer, elk, pronghorn, mountain lion, bobcat, coyote, gray fox, beaver, and badger are some of the mammals residing on Cold Spring. Numerous birds such as golden eagle, turkey vulture, prairie falcon, coopers hawk, red-tailed hawk, and many other species reside here.

Vegetation: Pinyon-juniper, sagebrush, and native grasses are the main vegetation communities with scattered large old growth, mountain mahogany. At the higher elevations are large old growth forests of Douglas fir and limber pine. The dark green color of the pinyon-juniper woodlands contrasts with the pink to deep red sandstone outcrops throughout the area. Dense riparian vegetation, including box elder, cottonwood, and willows, are found along Beaver Creek, Spitzie Draw, and near springs scattered through this large area. Numerous wildflowers are found in the area including bitterroot, arrowleaf balsamroot, lupine, scarlet gilia, prickly pear, and barrel cactus.

Diamond Peak Area: Diamond Peak and Middle Mountain, to the north of Cold Spring, reach some 9500 feet in elevation and are forested with lodgepole pine. These areas offer good hiking, mountain biking, or equestrian opportunities. The Wiggins primitive camp is on DOW (Division of Wildlife)  land to the west. Bishop primitive camp is on State land. Land ownership on top of Cold Spring north to the Wyoming border is a mix of private, state, and federal lands and access is not available to all public lands so good ownership maps are recommended. NOTE: The Calloway camp near the Matt Trail does not have legal public access across State Land from the top of Cold Spring Mountain.

Maps: BLM Canyon of Lodore and Dutch John , Utah Color Quad (scale=1:100,000). USGS Topographic Maps (scale=1:24,000) Swallow Canyon, Lodore School, Big Joe Basin and Irish Canyon cover the southern portion of the mountain, and Willow Creek Butte, Beaver Basin and Sparks cover the northern portion to the Wyoming border. Topographic maps are available from USGS, phone 1-800-HELP-MAP.

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