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Canyons of the Black Ridge: The Pollock Windows

Between the Forks of Pollock Canyon
Thursday, April 23, 2020

If the current COVID-19 pandemic had not completely changed everyone’s lives these past few weeks, then Diane and I would have left right after work today for another three day backpacking trip into The Needles District of Canyonlands National Park. But since that is obviously not happening anymore, I decided instead to head out after work on another local adventure so that I could finally visit The Windows of Pollock Canyon in the Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness. This is another one of those hikes that has been on my to-do list for a long time, and while I have seen the Pollock Windows from below in the East Fork of Pollock Canyon before, I’ve always wanted to hike to them for a closer look. Even though the sky was pretty much overcast for much of the day in the Grand Valley, the weather forecast was calling for it to clear up a little bit in the evening, so I was hoping for a nice sunset while I was out!

I left right after work and drove through the Colorado National Monument on my way to the Rattlesnake Arches Road.

Through The Monument

After driving across the top of Black Ridge the road started to descend on the other side and there was a nice view of the Colorado River below a rain shower.

Rain Over the River

I reached my trailhead in less than an hour and then started the cross-country trek to the Pollock Windows. There was no trail to follow and even very few game trails in the area, so the hiking was slower than usual.

Near The Trailhead

The clouds over Black Ridge were looking nice when I first started the hike.

Clouds Over Black Ridge

First, I had to find my way around the head of the West Fork of Pollock Canyon.

West Fork View

Throughout the evening more dark clouds moved across the sky and there were the occasional drops of rain.

West Fork of Pollock Canyon

I hiked along the top of the ridge between the forks of Pollock Canyon. I hoped I would be able to find a way down to the arches when I reached the end, otherwise I would be backtracking quite a ways…

Between The Canyons

When I reached the end of the mesa I found myself overlooking the narrow fin that contains the windows. Luckily, I found a way down below that looks like it may have been an old cattle trail at one time.

Top of the Fin

Since the sky was pretty overcast when I arrived at the windows, I decided to visit a small striped sandstone butte that was about a quarter mile away.

Little Striped Butte

When I returned to the Pollock Windows the sky was a little better, although the sun still wasn’t out.

The Pollock Windows

The Spectacles

The Spectacles

I walked over to the nearby edge for a view over the East Fork of Pollock Canyon from right above Liberty Bell Arch, which happens to be one of my favorite local arches.

East Fork of Pollock Canyon

East Fork View

I stuck around the area for a while hoping that the sun would come out from behind the clouds and illuminate the arches, but about an hour before sunset I knew it was time to start heading back so I wouldn’t have to find my way in the dark. I guess I can’t win them all…

Boulder View

I decided to return the way I had come over the top of the mesa between the canyons. The wind really picked up for the remainder of the evening as I made my way back.

Leaving the Windows

Looking back at the little striped butte I had visited earlier.

Sandstone Butte

Following the rim on the way back.

Following The Rim

As soon as I reached the head of the West Fork of Pollock Canyon the sun finally came out.

Sunlight

Light across the mesa I had just traversed.

Light on the Mesa

A view over the bench on the other side of Pollock Canyon.

Bench View

The evening light looked great across the Grand Valley.

Grand Valley

The sky was looking amazing at sunset with Mount Garfield visible in the distance.

April Showers

Black Ridge Canyons Sunset

Black Ridge Canyons Sunset

One last shot of the sky before the light disappeared.

Evening Sky

When I returned to my Jeep at dusk I had ended up hiking about 7 miles round trip. I had estimated that the hike to the Pollock Windows and back would be around 4 to 5, so I guess I did a little extra wandering around while I was out there! There quite a few ups and downs along the way as I needed to cross large rocky washes at the head of the West Fork which tired me out more than I was expecting. Still, it was a very nice way to spend an evening after work!

>> The Pollock Windows Photo Gallery

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