Colorado Plateau Hike & Camp 2014 travel blog

Ken's Lake provides irrigation water for the Upper Spanish Valley

Mill Creek was diverted into a 645-foot tunnel bored through the distant...

The Faux Falls Trail is well-marked and has easy footing

Faux Falls comes into view at the far end of the ribbon...

The pool below Faux Falls creates a little oasis for birds and...

Interesting erosion patterns on the high side of the Moab Fault

The Great Blue Heron surveilled us as we hike away from Faux...

Yup, the heron was still watching us!

The Rock Loop Trail through the desert was a sharp contrast to...


Friday, 13-June – Moab Valley RV Resort ↔ Ken's Lake Trailhead

Trip miles: 40 miles

Route taken: US-191 S → LaSal Mountain Loop Rd → US-191 N

Average Gas mileage: 27.9mpg

Weather: warm (65F) in the morning, hot (100F) with wind gusting to ~30 mph

Highlights:

- hiking around the BLM Ken's Lake area and to Faux Falls

- seeing two Great Blue Herons on our hike to Faux Falls

The Moab Valley campground was full again tonight for the third night in a row. With the shade temperature reaching 96F at 18:00 it is difficult to believe this is when Moab starts to get most busy.

Even though we didn't have a long hike planned we stuck to our morning routine and were at Ken's Lake by 7:30. It was quite strange to see this little man-made reservoir full of water in the middle of this Upper Sonoran Desert landscape. By walking to the beach and along the inlet from the creek we missed the trail sign. No worries. We eventually found the trail using directions we found on the web. The BLM campground here is a little better than the ones along the Colorado because it is possible to use Mill Creek as a non-potable water source. We could already hear the roar of the waterfall when two Great Blue Herons flew up from the bushes near the creek. Quite a marvelous sight. Later, one of the herons posed regally on a rock overlook, making sure we kept our distance. Perhaps the pair was nesting nearby? We only met two other people on this walk, a nice change from the National Park hikes.

By 9:30 we were enjoying a snack back at the lake shore, then it was time to drive back into town to do our errands: re-provisioning our food and wine supplies and filling the gas tank. These last few days of short, slow trips on flat roads had helped improve the gas mileage but we wouldn't make it the 65 miles to the Needles District on a quarter of a tank. The rest of the afternoon was spent taking down the screen house (quite a feat in the gusty wind), doing laundry and eating a relaxing dinner in a shady spot at Swanny Park again. The weather forecasted for the Needles District is about 10 degrees cooler than here in Moab. We are looking forward to it.

Hikes:

Ken's Lake to Faux Falls – In 1981 Ken McDougald's 15-year effort to create the 95-foot high Mill Creek Dam and Reservoir was finally completed. The reservoir lake holds 2750 acre feet of water. Water to fill Ken's Lake is diverted from Mill Creek into a 645-foot tunnel bored through a sandstone formation a few miles from the lake. Faux Falls was formed where the diverted water gushes out of a pipe high on that hill. The reservoir water is used for irrigation in the Upper Spanish Valley.

Depending on the route taken this hike is between 1 and 2 miles long. We had a little difficulty finding it behind campsite 18 as described on the placards near the lake but eventually found a trail sign at the junction of Rock Loop and Faux Falls trails. The Faux Falls trail follows Mill Creek up to the Falls. It is a lovely walk accompanied by the sound of rushing water. We returned along the Rock Loop Trail, a dry, very quiet, desert walk. On our return walk we saw where we had missed the trail coming up from the lake inlet near the Camp Host site #20.


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