|Elevation Gain||115 ft|
|My Time||31 min|
Hiking East Fourmile Draw
Located near Rangely, Colorado, the East Fourmile Draw is a surprising hike that has a ton of history packed into its small loop. The trail is on the easier side and should be good for most skill levels looking for a small look into a past of the western Colorado terrain.
The East Fourmile Draw starts at a combination rest area and trailhead. The trail loops to either side of the restroom and can be taken either direction but I started to the left and it did it clockwise to get to the petroglyphs first. There is also an information graphic that has a map and map of the surrounding area.
The graphic also talks about the Dominguez y Escalante Expedition. In 1776, a group of Ute guides, Spanish Priests and other explorers came to the area. They were looking for a way to travel from Santa Fe to California but instead became some of the first known explorers of western Colorado. They named the area the Canyon Pintado
There is alot more information at the site about the history and discovery. Plus, all along the trail are informational graphics just like that explaining more about the specifics of this surprisingly historic small trail. I will talk about some of the info here but if you love your history and are close to Rangely, this might be a really fun area to explore and get the rest of the information. There is also some more info here.
The Hike at East Fourmile Draw
There really isn’t too much to the hike at East Fourmile Draw. It is only slightly more than a mile if you hit all the locations. It is mostly flat and the trail is pretty easy to follow. It is completely exposed so totally at the mercy of the elements. Around the rocks there are also a lot of social trails that lead up to the rocks. As always, it is best to stick to the designed trails to protect the area.
While the physical hike isn’t anything particularly special, the elements around the trail are really special. So instead of focusing on the trail I am going to focus more on what you can see at the trail!
One of the most popular draws at Fourmile Draw are the petroglyphs. While not as abundant as some sites, there are a couple of really noticeable carvings in the rocks. The one that I could see the best was the horse below. There were also what looked like deer and some other animals. Around the same are there were also some fossils in the rocks that sort of looked like carvings.
Nearby there were signs of less creative, yet still historic, markers in the rocks, bullet holes! There are spots on the wall near some of the main carvings where bullets have left impact holes in solid rock. Not sure if these were part of a battle or more of a target situation but the marks remain.
When cowboys were driving cattle around or ranch hands were doing work on a ranch, one of the things that was considered a bonus was a Line Shack. These shacks were small and usually placed directly against a steep wall. A stove would be in the back of the shack with the smoke running up the wall of rock. That would provide heat and a hot meal. The shacks would then provide a bit of shelter for the weary hands.
There is the collapsed remnants of a line shack at the East Fourmile Draw site. You can see the stacked stone in the back where the stove was and the collapsed wood leaning up against the rock. From the looks of it, the shack was very small but probably a cozy place to spend the evening.
Another site at East Fourmile is the hanging hearth site. This has been studied by local scientists and they determined that there have been inhabitants in this area for around 3000 years. According to the mapping on the info graphic the below picture contains roughly 10 heaths and 2 pithouses that were used to process local plants. It is a fascinating look at how people have always combined nature and functional use to survive in tough terrains.
The last stop at the East Fourmile Draw site is called the Sun Dagger. The Sun Dagger was essentially a calendar or way to tell the time. It used a tall rock that would cast a shadow onto the carvings in the rock seen below. That way the inhabitants of the lands could keep track of the seasons based on the shadow that was cast on their wall changing depending on the sun position. Pretty remarkable stuff!
From using cracks in the walls 3000 years ago to firearms and explorers a couple of hundred years ago, this spot has seen a lot. A lot of history has passed through the unremarkable walls. It only shows itself when you slow down and take a moment to look at it a little bit closer. I didn’t know what to expect on this mile long loop but I definitely wasn’t expecting to learn so much of the way of life of the very old west. What an incredible stop and hike!
Distance and Elevation
If you don’t have the AllTrails app you might want to check it out, I really love mine. It records your progress and is a great way to search for hikes that are nearby. Plus, it gives you difficulty measurements. According to AllTrails today’s hike was around 1.20 miles and had a total elevation gain of about 115 feet including undulations. That put the high point at around 5,736 feet. I was also moving for a total of 31 minutes.
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This is a really easy hike for most people. There is never really anything more than small hill to hike up. The trail does get narrow at times and is a bit sandy so anyone with mobility problems might have a bit of a problem. However, most skill levels should be able to handle this easier hike.
The trail is a bit sandy and very exposed. There isn’t a lot of elevation gain to worry about but the trail does get a bit challenging to follow at times as it can be hard to decipher from the ground. Overall, the trail manageable and any footwear for walking would be appropriate. There is a warning of snakes in the area so long pants and closed toe shoes would probably be a good idea.
The East Fourmile Draw trailhead is located about 10 miles south of the town Rangely on State Highway 139. There is parking for about 10 cars and a pit toilet located at the trailhead.
Wrapping up East Fourmile Draw
I was really blown away by the East Fourmile Draw Site. I knew there was a short hike there and I was on a roadtrip so it looked like a good place to stop and stretch my legs. What I found was a short hike that was big on history and kept me really entertained the entire time. I was blown away with just how much was at this short mile long loop. Way more than I was expecting and I loved every step of this hike!
On a personal note, East Fourmile Draw is located in Rio Blanco County. Rio Blanco is the 36th different county in Colorado that I have hiked in on my goal of hiking in all 64!
I have added this hike and all of my hikes to my interactive map page that you can find here. If you have a suggestion or comment you can email me at email@example.com. Or follow me on any of the below social media platforms. Happy Hiking!