Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Sweeney Creek

This one's worth going back many times.  It's only a 17 minute drive to the trailhead from Pinedale and NO dirt roads involved.  It has mountain vistas, lush evergreen forests, water features (lakes and creeks), meadows of wildflowers and open sagebrush hills. We shared the trail with a couple of hikers in May, but it is an ATV trail, with probable high use later in the summer. In June, 2017, extensive rock blasting and road grading was going on.  There were numerous sharp rocks, but most were avoidable.  Google Map "Sweeney Creek" for directions. (Update, July 21, 2017:  The Forest Service has been doing major work here, including harvesting of dead trees.  This will be a "hot spot" for gathering lumber.  Some spots in the road have been graded, but there are still lots of sharp rock pieces on the lower doubletrack.)

(Click on any photo for enlarged image)

View of a pond near Half Moon Lake.

Two parking options.  The first is larger and has a spectacular view of Half Moon Lake.

Our track on May 22, 2017.  7.66 miles.  Elevation= 7,979' to 8,468'.  Trail conditions:  90% dirt doubletrack with about 60% of that somewhat rocky.  There are a couple of really rocky spots, including (as of June 20) some really sharp rocks that they have "blasted" out to improve the road. The road was much more suitable to a barefoot horse in May.  A barefoot horse in excellent condition could do it fine.  However, after our ride back on June 20, I would use boots in the future because my horse got sore from the sharp rocks. 

First parking area with the view of Half Moon.

First parking area, room for many rigs with plenty of turn around space.  No rest room.

Getting ready to cross Sweeney Creek on May 22.
Crossing Sweeney Creek, May 22.

Off the path in the forest.

Place where snow covered the trail May 22, 2017.

Much of the trail looks like this.

And some parts are like this.

Some of the trail is like this, but thankfully not much.

Half Moon overlook on May 27.

May 27, still snow in many spots.

View of Half Moon Lake area, May 27

Off the path, May 22

There was quite a bit of deadfall, but nothing we couldn't navigate as far as we went.  We reached a point on the trail where the snow became too deep and we were concerned about deadfall under the snow. (Note: as of May 27, the deadfall has been removed.)

This is the "trail" higher up on June 20.  At least the snow was gone.

The beautiful meadow we stopped at.  This area is probably the most gorgeous of the whole ride, June 20.  A big change from the May rides. The flies and mosquitoes were bothersome, but not too bad.

June 20, Sweeney Creek by the meadow in the photo above.

No snow left anywhere, June 20.

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