We had a small group of just three Jeeps as we continued our four-day excursion in the area south and west of Salida. This was an area we hadn't explored before, and even though there are some excellent trails there with breath-taking scenery there didn't seem to be much information available on them. Poncha Creek was to be the first of many trails run over the four days and we were anxious to get started. We did a little bit of the Marshall Pass trail first before getting to the trailhead for Poncha Creek.
As we turned onto the trail towards Poncha Creek, there was an inviting turnout beside the small creek that made an ideal place for lunch. We stopped for a while, and sat in our folding chairs admiring the creek and the sound of the water as it washed the cares of the past week away. It didn't take long for the attitude adjustment to take hold and we were anxious to be off!
A short way up the trail from our lunch spot, we crossed a bridge and turned left for the Poncha Creek trail proper. We continued beside the creek, seeing a few people camped in some nice dispersed campsites near the creek. This would turn out to be pretty common everywhere we went for the four days, as there were plenty of excellent campsites. The trail climbed slowly, gradually changing from an easy, graded road to a rocky trail requiring higher ground clearance. There were no major obstacles, but 4-wheel drive and low range were welcome as they provided the gearing for leisurely motoring.
We passed the trailhead for the Starvation Creek hiking trail but saw no one. As we continued up the trail, there were occasional views through the trees, but mostly it was wooded with aspen and evergreens. Wild roses grew close to the trail providing some color. At a meadow, a spur entered the trail from the left. A couple ATVs had just came from that direction and we asked how the trail was. They replied that it got quite narrow; probably too narrow for a Jeep, so we opted to continue on up the Poncha Creek trail.
Shortly after meeting the ATVs we were at the summit of Marshall Pass and we stopped to admire the views, including a spectacular view of Mount Ouray. We remarked that Chief Ouray must have gotten around since we were far from the town of Ouray! After stretching our legs as we walked around checking out the Colorado Trail, we continued our trip with the western half of Marshall Pass.