Dark Canyon #830

The Dark Canyon Trail #830 begins at the trailhead which is part of the Erickson Springs Recreation Area and ends at Horse Ranch Park. The trail follows Anthracite Creek up through the towering rock walls of Dark Canyon. In the early season, waterfalls thunder down from cliffs and canyons high above the trail. After passing through the rocky depths of the canyon, the trail climbs the Devil’s Staircase to emerge on easier terrain. Several more miles of gradual climbing through aspen forests, groves of gambel oak and open parks bring you up to the flanks of the Ruby Range and then on to Horse Ranch Park. The Dark Canyon Trail #830 is popular and well maintained, it is the major route across the southern portion of the Raggeds Wilderness, but it is rocky in the canyon with occasional wet spots. Three narrow foot bridges cross the creek which becomes a raging river in the spring. The trail is good above the Devil’s Staircase, which is a series of switchbacks and not as bad as the name implies. Bands of sheep summer in the upper area. Dark Canyon is typically accessible by early May, but be prepared for ticks and fallen trees blocking the trail.

Geo-Ref Trail Map   Geo-Reference Instructions

At a Glance

Fees: $14 per night if camping at the Dark Canyon Trailhead.
Open Season: May
Usage: Heavy
Best Season: Summer
Busiest Season: Summer
Restrictions: Open to hiking and horseback riding only.
Closest Towns: Paonia, CO
Restroom: Vault toilet (1)

General Information


The Dark Canyon Trailhead is located in the Erickson Springs Recreation Area, adjacent to Erickson Springs Campground. This trailhead accesses the Dark Canyon Trail #830, Dark Canyon/Munsey Tie-in Trail #830A, the Munsey Ruby Stock Driveway Trail #831, and the Raggeds Wilderness. The trailhead has hitching racks & hay feeders, and a Vault Toilet.


From Paonia: Travel northeast on Hwy 133 for approximately 15 miles. Turn east onto Gunnison County Road 12, Kebler Pass Road, and continue for approximately 5.5 miles to the Erickson Springs Campground and Recreation Area. The Dark Canyon Trailhead is at the end of the road just past the campground.


T. 13 S; R. 88 W; Section: 6. U.S.G.S. Map: Paonia Reservoir. Elevation: 6,800 feet. Latitude: N38.959, Longitude: W-107.263.

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information


Day Hiking


Horse Riding

The trailhead has hitching racks & hay feeders.

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities


  Area/Length : 
13.8 miles

  Latitude : 

  Longitude : 

  Elevation : 
6,800 - 10,000 ft


4 people hiking over a rock ledge

Hikers on the Hope Lake Trail