~ by Rick Langenberg ~
Sometimes a good healthy town debate produces great results for the great outdoors.
Such is the reality with the Dewey Mountain trail in Green Mountain Falls, the newest addition to GMF’s thriving system and just another crown in its growing title as the trail king of the Ute Pass region.
Five or so years ago, the town hosted a lively debate over designating this trail and opening it up to the public, following much support and property acquisitions by Chris Keesee and the Green Mountain Falls Historic Foundation. Not surprisingly, the fight often pitted neighbors against trail buffs and town officials. In the end, the trail redesign got the green light, with some cautionary measures.
Well, the fight was well worth it. Moreover, in our coronavirus era, this route is a definite gem. I can’t believe I (a long-time GMF resident) never accessed this trail until last week.
First the good news: Access to the Dewey base is short, compared to other trails in Green Mountain that often require lengthy hikes to get to the trail head. Merely park in the center of town or near the swimming pool area or at the designated area at Olathe and Ann streets. Take Ann to Grandview, then march up Catamount and take a short right on Myrtle and you are there. At first, you will think you are going through someone’s property. But alas, this is the entrance to Dewey and part of the legacy of the trail system in GMF, which offers an ideal partnership among property owners, the town and trail users.
Bad News. You still have to endure a pretty rigorous uphill trek along the GMF mountain roads, such as Catamount. Can they possibly make a road steeper anywhere in the United States? I doubt it.
Dewey Mountain, unlike most trails in GMF, gives you the thrill of actually climbing a peak and embracing the sunny majestic side of the area, rather than the shady falls zone. Many of GMF routes, while unique, often draw comparisons with what I remember as kid in trekking in West Virginia. Dewey, is our Little Switzerland, and reminds me of what you may experience in Ouray, Colorado, which I rate as probably one of the most scenic spots in the state.
Take a break at Dewey’s “spiritual platform” area, after you get started. This offers a good initial break, as you will probably need to catch your breath after enduring the entry section and walking up Catamount Street.
The trail is quite windy and takes you on a nearly 1,000-foot elevation climb. It is steep, but anyone in moderate shape can handle.
More importantly, it’s a great hike for a quick diversion, if you just want to get out for a bit, say for an hour or two. Moreover, it’s ideal for reaching our acclaimed goals of social distancing. No horses, mountain bikes or ATVs are permitted on the Dewey Mountain trail. Canines are more than welcome, so keep your eyes open for loose dogs, as most pets, such as my border collie, Sinead, often want to take their own route up Dewey and not necessarily follow the trail markings.
The view from the top of Dewey Mountain offers a unique perspective of the town below and how it is situated in the tight valley, known as Green Mountain Falls. The trail gets a little thinner at the top, so watch your step as you reach the summit.
If you have more time, continue onto the Bratton trail, named in honor of our illustrious trails’ guru, Dick Bratton. This nearly two-mile route gives you access to the Catamount Reservoir route, Catamount Falls, and a more scenic trip into GMF.
Dewey has quite an illustrious history, so spend time embracing the folklore of the Ute Pass.
Hikers and horseback riders have enjoyed the Dewey Mt. trail since 1890, but in recent years a number of problems arose that made the trail difficult to access. After years of horse traffic, the trail became seriously eroded in spots. The redesigned route was achieved by hours of work by the town’s Trails Committee.
If you want to give the group a hand, check out their work days listed at the trailhead. What this group has done in the last two decades is absolutely amazing.
In the meantime, if you are suffering a bad case from cabin fever, escape to Dewey Mountain. You won’t be disappointed.