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Cottonwood Marsh photo by Peter Burke

Piedra Road (Hinsdale section) - Hinsdale County
Ownership: None Listed
Description: The southeast corner of Hinsdale County is unique because of its extensive Ponderosa Pine forests and lower overall elevation than the northern parts of the county. Western Bluebirds can be seen in the area, as well as Lewis's Woodpeckers. The Ponderosa almost certainly has Grace's Warblers, but to our knowledge, no one has found them yet. Wild Turkey has been seen just over the county line in Mineral, so be on the lookout for this potential first county record.

Coming into the county from the south along Piedra Road, you quickly cross the Piedra River. Taking the right turn just past the river will take you to the Piedra Picnic Area in a half mile. The picnic area has a nice mid-elevation riparian tangle that can harbor the likes of Song Sparrow, Spotted Towhee, Yellow Warbler and potentially other lower-elevation species and migrants in season. If you follow FR 635 past the picnic area, it will eventually loop back around to Piedra Road through some magnificent mature ponderosa forest, all of which is on private land and must be birded from the road. The entire loop is good for Lewis's Woodpecker, and the ponderosa sections are also good for things like Western Bluebird.

If you turn right just before crossing the Piedra River, onto FR 714, you will reach some fields in the SE corner of the county that have breeding Savannah Sparrow, and maybe even rails in wet years.

If you continue up Piedra Road about three miles from the county line, you can take a left turn onto FR 639. This goes through some of the very best habitat in the county. The Ponderosa, oak and aspen habitat here can produce Virginia's Warbler, Flammulated Owl, Band-tailed Pigeon, Evening Grosbeak and many other fine birds. If you follow the road to the top where it splits three ways and take the right fork (on foot if the road is too rutted for your car), you will get to an area that is good for Williamson's Sapsucker. Somewhere up here there are Grace's Warblers...we just know it!

If you continue up the Piedra Road several miles, past the turnoff to Williams Creek Reservoir and across Weminuche Creek, you'll enter a little-traveled area of mixed-conifer forest that transitions into spruce-fir. This is another great area to get high-elevation birds including Gray Jay, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Evening Grosbeak, Red Crossbill and Three-toed Woodpecker. Odds are this is the best road for Dusky Grouse in the county. If you like your woods deep and your roads remote, this is the line for you.

Habitat: Ponderosa Forest, Mixed-Conifer Forest, Streamside Willow, Aspen Grove, Spruce-Fir Forest
Directions: Two miles west of Pagosa Springs on US 160, head north on Archuleta CR 600 (Piedra Road), and stay on this road for 15.5 miles to the Hinsdale County line. This road then becomes Hinsdale CR 631.
Other Wildlife:
Other Attractions:

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