Bone Trail

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 40.36920°N / 107.7678°W
Additional Information Route Type: Scrambling
Seasons Season: Spring, Fall
Additional Information Time Required: Half a day
Additional Information Difficulty: Class 2
Sign the Climber's Log


One of the best routes that I have found is via an old historic sheep trail that I stumbled across one day. Much of the route has been reclaimed by nature, but much of the trail is still visible. My kids like to call it the Bone Trail as apparently not all animals that attempted the trail made it through for some reason and their bones are scattered along parts of the trail.

Bone Trail up Duffy MountainOne of the best routes that I have found is via an old historic sheep trail that I stumbled across one day. Much of the route has been reclaimed by nature, but much of the trail is still visible.

Getting There

County Road 17 connects Highway 40 with Highway 13. To reach the road from the north, drive to the tiny hamlet of Lay along Highway 40. This is about 19 miles west of Craig or 11 miles east of Maybell. Follow the County Road south to a junction. Stay left and follow the main road until the main road crosses the Yampa River. Set your trip meter here. After four miles there is a cattle guard and left turn for “River Access”. Continue straight (right) along the main road for about another mile. Keep a close eye on the left side of the road for a faint track heading north. Drive as far as you can along the track and park. This used to be a pretty good road, but the floods of September 2007 washed a lot of the road out. Our Subaru only made it half way.

To reach County Road 17 from the south, drive south of Craig along Highway 13 past Hamilton and several miles past this to the signed turnoff for Duffy Mountain or drive Highway 13 north of Meeker to the turnoff. I don’t know the exact mileage from either town, but the road is well signposted.

Duffy Mountain from the SouthThis is Duffy Mountain as viewed from the south and near the trailhead on October 20 2007.

Route Description

From the parking area mentioned above, either walk or drive the track to its end. At one place, keep left where the right fork goes up the hill. The track ends overlooking a drainage. You want to climb to the north (left) with minor scrambling to get above the cliff bands in the drainage.

Once above the cliff bands, follow the game paths up the hill and around the boulders and drop into the drainage. Cross the drainage and look for game old game and livestock trails climbing up the slope. Follow the very steep trails up the slope. Eventually the routes will converge into one eroded trail with some bones scattered along it. The trail is better up high, but is washed out in a few sections. It climbs toward and through the cliff band with only minor scrambling. At the top of the cliff band is an old sheep fence.

Once on top of the cliff band, the trail fades away. Just keep heading north cross country and up the slope. After not too long, you will cross a jeep trail. The flat and long top of the mountain isn’t as interesting as the sections below and at the cliff bands (though there are fine viewpoints), but you can walk cross country to any viewpoint you want or route find north and down to the Yampa River.

You can spend anywhere from a few hours to all day wandering this region.

Upper Section of the Bone TrailClick for full size. This is the upper section of the Bone Trail. Kessler is center right in the photo. Just above the photo the trail fades away and it's mostly cross country travel to reach the higher points on the mountain.

Essential Gear

A good pair of boots and the normal hiking gear is required.

RattlerA large rattlesnake seen on our climb of Duffy Mountain on October 20 2007. As soon as my son Kessler heard it rattling he stopped in his tracks and asked "what's that noise?" I showed him the rattlesnake and we promptly took the long way around. Rattlers blend in well with the landscape and can be hard to spot. Luckily they usually give fair warning to stay away.



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