Caroline's Critiques: Brush up on 'Colorado Canyon Country'

— Hiking in Colorado can be a wonderful, peaceful experience as long as the hiker is prepared for the hike and understands the destination. Colorado is full of great hiking trails through the State Parks, but many of the state's beautiful landmarks are hidden on Bureau of Land Management land.

"Colorado Canyon Country: A Guide to Hiking & Floating BLM Wildlands" by Mark Pearson with photographs by John Fielder, is a book that assists the outdoor person in finding hikes in territory that is less explored and may not be noticeable to the untrained eye.

This guide explores BLM land that is often overlooked by hikers. There are no marked trails and often the beauty of the land is hidden behind a mountain ridge and could go unfound without exploration or the assistance of this book.

The book mentions hiking essentials: matches, knife, flashlight, etc.; how to handle extreme physical reactions to the environment: hypothermia and heat stress, etc.; and the explanation of wilderness and the importance for humans to explore it.

Pearson explains the location, elevation, ecosystem, wilderness status, special features and places included in the topographic map of each BLM area.

Specific hikes are mapped out, along with what to expect and look for on the hike. Each hike includes a picture of the trail or scenery.

Most of the hikes are day hikes, but the book references hikes that are 8 or more miles long, suggesting a night's stay under the stars would be appropriate.

Each hike is described in length by miles, the low and high elevations, and the hikes level of difficulty. Directions to the trailheads and a map are given in the description.

River trips are described just like the hikes and offer suggestions on boat launching and what to look for while traveling down the river.

Few Colorado guides mention Moffat County, but this book has many sites.

The Northwest Colorado section has hikes for Black Mountain and Windy Gulch, Bull Canyon, Willow Creek, Skull Creek, Cold Spring Mountain, Cross Mountain, Diamond Breaks, Dinosaur National Monument, Oil Spring Mountain, Piñon Ridge, Vermillion Basin and Yampa River.

Fielder's photographs give a little glimpse of what to expect when hiking or floating BLM land in Colorado: beautiful canyons, sagebrush valleys and rock formations.

BLM land is often known as the land "no one wanted," meaning it doesn't belong to the Forest Service or to the National Park Service but still is public land and has its own beauty.

"Colorado Canyon Country" hiking guide is inclusive to hikes that are less traveled. When treading in these areas, BLM asks hikers and floaters to leave no trace of their presence because these areas are the real wilderness.

"Colorado Canyon Country: A Guide to Hiking & Floating BLM Wildlands" is published by Westcliffe Publishers and is available at Downtown Books for $22.95 and at the Moffat County Library.

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