Let’s Go Exploring! | CraigDailyPress.com

Let’s Go Exploring!

Cedar Mountain is a quick trip for fantastic, highly accessible outdoors experiences

Cedar Mountain as scene from near the trailhead is covered with January snow.
Eliza Noe / Craig Press

Sitting just 15-20 minutes outside the busier part of the city of Craig, Cedar Mountain is one of the more accessible recreational areas for those who live in town.

A new series brings Moffat County’s wonders to you

We’re pleased to introduce our newest twice-monthly feature: Let’s Go Exploring!

This every-other-Friday effort will give Craig Press readers — from lifers to visitors to everyone in between — a peek at the glories of our area, with the idea in mind that a day trip in Moffat County or nearby is as good as just about anything you can do even with more time available.

Moffat County and its surrounding area is packed chock-full with wide-open wonders and unique eccentricities. We know our home is beautiful, but sometimes we don’t know exactly how to appreciate that beauty. That’s what Let’s Go Exploring! is all about.

In partnership with local experts, we’ll scout out the area’s great day trips and suggest what to bring, what to do, when to go and what to avoid when there.

We hope you enjoy this series. It’s a magical world, friends, Let’s Go Exploring!

Cedar Mountain resides on land covered by the Bureau of Land Management, and the Cedar Mountain Special Recreation Management Area (SRMA) consists of 880 acres of public lands and stands about 1,000 feet above the Yampa Valley, with a peak about 400 feet higher than that.

Some of Cedar Mountain’s amenities:

  • Parking area
  • Pit toilet
  • Picnic tables
  • Information kiosks about the area’s flora and fauna

The geology of Cedar Mountain consists mainly of Browns Park Formation white-colored sandstones, and the mountain itself is made from a weather-resistant cap formed by an ​​ancient volcanic flow of basalt. From the mountain, it’s possible to see some of its fault lines, which are small. The view from the top includes the city of Craig, Black Mountain, Bear’s Ears and the ski slopes in Steamboat Springs.

Cedar Mountain is a day-use only area, making it a great stop for outdoors enthusiasts looking for day-trip activities. Because of its close proximity to town, it’s also a great spot for beginner recreationalists looking to explore Moffat County.

What to Do

For those who enjoy hiking trails, Cedar Mountain features two, and the trails are not strenuous. ​​The 3.5-mile Stearns Trail starts from the parking area and is popular for foot, horseback or mountain bike activities. There is also a half-mile hiking trail that begins at the covered picnic tables. For the longer trail, make sure to bring plenty of water. Motorized vehicles are limited to designated roads at the site, but Cedar Mountain is a great spot for activities all year round. While on trails, visitors can enjoy wildlife viewing, nature study, rockcrawling or picnicking.

Because of the versatility of Cedar Mountain’s trails, this includes snowshoeing and cross-country skiing for the next couple of snowy months, as well. Hunting is also allowed at Cedar Mountain, but only during hunting season, and any other shooting outside of the season is prohibited.

A hiking trail at Cedar Mountain is covered in snow in late January.
Eliza Noe / Craig Press

How to Get There

To get to Cedar Mountain, take West Victory all the way west until you get to Murdoch’s. From Highway 40 on the west end of Craig, take Moffat County Road 7 north by turning right. Follow County Road 7 for about 10 minutes and keep left when you see Mountain Storage to stay on the county road.

The entrance road to Cedar Mountain is on the right about a half mile beyond the Gun Club shooting range, and it is marked by a large BLM sign. The day use parking area is just up the road, but be aware that snow management stops just beyond the main road. Motorized vehicle use is limited to designated roads, and those designated roads are marked with signs.

Being a good visitor

Cedar Mountain is home to many species of wildlife, including mammals such as mule deer, marmot, fox, coyote, squirrels and rabbits. Golden eagles, redtail hawks and turkey vultures are also present. During nesting season (which happens in the Spring), rock outcrops along the rim should be avoided to prevent disturbing any nests or chicks.

Like other parts of Moffat County, the area around Cedar Mountain might have archeological or cultural sites, and they should be left alone. Cultural sites and any artifacts at those sites are protected by federal law, meaning they should not be removed from wherever they were found. It is illegal to surface collect, metal detect or dig on any federal lands without a federal permit. Federal lands include lakes and lands managed by the Army Corps of Engineers or the Bureau of Land Management. It also includes U.S. Forests, National Parks, National Wildlife Refuges, and military bases.

And, just like any other recreational area, being a good guest to the land helps them last longer for future generations and keeps public lands beautiful. Remove any trash from picnics or snacks, leave what you find, respect the wildlife and its habitat and be considerate of other visitors who also want to enjoy the area.

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