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Big Dominguez and Little Dominguez Loop is a 40.1 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Whitewater, Colorado and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Horses are also able to use this trail.

Length 40.1 mi Elevation gain 4,504 ft Route type Loop
Backpacking Camping Fishing Hiking Horseback riding Bird watching Over grown Off trail
Description
Waypoints (0)

NOTE: This includes off trail and potential stream crossings. Roughly miles 25-32 are all trail finding or downright following the GPS. There is no water between the campground at the end of Big Dominguez and the “camp 2” marker around mile 32, so make sure you have enough.

Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (24)
Photos (41)
Recordings (20)
Completed (27)
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Nick Reinicke
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMay 23, 2020
Hiking

NOTE: we dropped an orange blow-up sleeping pad in the Little Dominguez canyon. If anyone happened to find it please let us know at (720) 724-4614‬. We hiked this over Memorial Day weekend and had a blast. Greg's description of the descent is pretty accurate, we were able to get down from above Little Dominguez canyon on the south side of No Mans Mesa with minimal confusion. The wash does get pretty steep and so do expect some sliding and down climbing. There was still water in both Big and Little Dominguez canyons but the flow isn't significant. There was no water at all on the upper mesa/wagon park so we carried water between the campground and Little Dominguez canyon. Also of note, the Big Dominguez was pretty crowded (probably due to being a holiday weekend) but the Little Dominguez was much more secluded. We didn't see a soul on the stretch between the campground and the Little Dominguez canyon.

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Wyatt Lowdermilk
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMay 23, 2020
Running

Completed ultra-running style on May 23rd with a buddy and had the route as 39.4 miles with ~4300ft of gain. Greg's description and route data was absolutely crucial. I loaded Greg's route into my watch to follow and identify turns and places where the trail ran thin. A couple of comments on tricky sections down below. The first 15 miles are straightforward with even the less traveled parts farther from trailheads being easy to follow. First tweak - reaching the campground around mile 15. instead of going across the road we immediately turned left onto the atv road through camp, waded through the water and followed that up the climb. Next deviation was in one of the fields, for us mile 25.5. On the Alltrails data, it is the bulge in the gps data around mile 26.7. Here, the trail you were following goes straight into the field and dead ends, the alltrail version goes to the right before looping back left. I recommend veering left and heading up the little hill to re-meet the trail. Wandering through the field will likely get you stuck with cacti with almost too many to dodge. Starting around mile 28 for us, the trail runs out. This leaves you picking your way through scrub land, crust, dry streams and debris. We didn't find a very efficient way through even looking at Greg's and Alltrails data. It might be beneficial to set a waypoint and pick your way towards it rather than follow a specific gps line. Greg's comment on the technical section around mile 31 is right on. If you are not yet in a slot in the rocks with walls on each side, you are not in the difficult part. work your way down some steep, but fairly open sections using the gps again as a guide but not an exact trail. If you reach a 6+ foot drop in the slot, scramble up the incline to the right and continue to pick your way across the scree. Once down the technical portion be prepared for sandier trail and your first chance for water since possibly mile 15/16. Be prepared to not see water from the campground to mile 31. We also didn't see a single person through this section. This route was a little more difficult that it reads on paper given how much the first third of the trail winds up to the campground and how tight turns are. Miles 25-31 are slower as well given the navigation and increased presence of cacti and technical sections.

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Greg Mauger
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMay 12, 2020
Running

I've been milling around this area and doing this loop for the past month or so and hope I can clarify the route/conditions/water etc..... I'm gonna try to be fairly brief so please read other reviews/breakdowns before you set out. I'll say this right out of the gate, the questionable mile 31 section is totally fine so long as your are reasonably fit, don't have a crazy heavy backpack, and have the patients to read terrain a little. More on that later The first 15 miles up Big Dominguez are easy flowing, well maintained trail. You might lose the trail once when you get into the less travel zone around mile 9 through 13, but its super easy to pick up again and your in a canyon so hard to get lost. You know your nearing Dominguez Campground when the trail widens and you start to see uncollected dog shit bags. The campground is primitive but has some nice picnic tables, privies, flat campsites. There have been varying levels of campers the times I've passed by, better camping to be had either a few miles before this or a few after. There are two privies (concrete portajohns), both of which are currently locked due to Covid (where are people pooping then??.....). Pro-Tip, someone unscrewed the hinges off one of the doors. I suspect the BLM will get these going soon. Once you get the the campground cross the dirt road right where the trail hits it and pick up the trail as it trespass through two campsites and over a newly constructed bridge. This is the last obvious water for about 16 miles. The cow ponds and streams that I've seen mentioned in other reviews dont exists as of right now. There is a spring labeled Steamboat Spring around mile 23 or 24 but I forgot to check it the times I came through, was in the zone. Be prepared to carry about 16 miles worth of water. From there follow the road as it ascends sharply, giving you a killer view of Big Dominguez Canyon. Just before the left turn on road 408.3B is a nice camp spot, though looks frequented by ATV/Moto/4wd campers. Follow 408.3B as it climbs and weaves it's way across the plateau, trending right at the two forks. This dumps you onto Wagon Park road which is in fairly good shape and has nice gradual descent. A few easy miles pass and you'll see some corral infrastructure, the road takes you over an earthen dam that once held a cattle pond. The road then continues left but you'll leave it here and join Upper Bar Trail, which is not marked except for the smaller marker that says administrative use only. The next few miles are fairly easy to follow, though the trail does become faint at times and will eventually become extremely faint. If you have a keen eye you can keep on the trail for 90% of this section but you'll definitely need to check the GPS at times to make sure you are on or close. Be careful of off trail travel here with all the cryptobiotic crust and camo cactus. When your nearing mile 31 you'll follow a few small washes until you reach what should be the fairly obvious problem area. Once you reach the steep/cliffy portion definitely use the GPS to be sure you are in the correct vaccinity. If you choose your line right you shouldn't need to jump off anything more than 2 feet high. There is some confusion for me on how it was intended that you get down this section. The USGS map has you going around the north side of No Mans Mesa, but I went that direction the first time around and couldn't find an easy way down (though I will admit I didn't look that hard). Instead try for the south side of No Man's Mesa, which is the side you are at anyways. The most simple way to do this is to aim for the obvious wash between where you are and No Mans Mesa. Do some easy downclimbing and some light sliding to reach the wash. Follow the wash, over some trees/debris, down some 2/3 foot drops until you reach a dorp that is too high to jump down. From here scramble on the loose shale to your right for 100 yards or so and you'll come to several options for descending the remainder safely. Fun! Now you are in Little Dominguez Canyon! The creek should now be obvious as is the rest of the trail. Lots of good campsites in the next few miles and great spots to chill and soak your feet. The canyon widens significantly as work your way back toward Big Dominguez and has some really spectacular views, especially in the spring. This area has a ton of little trails and old roads weaving across it but they all get you to where you need to be. Total miles on my recording were 38.2 with 4,334 feet of climbing. For those that are into the long distance running thing this is a cool route for that and I'll be submitting my time as the initial FKT (fastest known time) at 10hours 35min 21seconds. Most proficient ultra runners would beat that time easily and I'm hoping to better it this fall. Also, gezz are you tired of me yet? This got long.

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Greg Mauger
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarApril 18, 2020
HikingOver grown
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Houston Christopherson
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarMay 1, 2019
HikingOff trailScramble

Did this loop solo and was unnerved by the amount of off trail hiking and steep descent scrambling. Miles roughly 25-32 are all trail finding or downright following the GPS. Keep your phone charged! There is no water between the campground at the end of Big Dominguez and the “camp 2” marker around mile 32, so make sure you have enough. This is def not a moderate hike, I would 100% rate this as a hard trail. Four gentlemen I met out there had to call search and rescue to help them get out, they ran out of water and got rimmed out, I’m guessing around the “down” marker because that’s when the two miles of steep scrambling begins. Also I had to jump the creek that ran trough Little Dominguez Canyon multiple times, the final crossing around mile 38 is particularly wide( at least a 6ft jump). The creek was up to the handle of my trekking pole in all areas and moving far to fast to step into. Bring trekking poles and tough shoes as there are a ton of cactuses through some sections. I just want you to have an idea of what lies ahead, because the views are spectacular! Be careful and enjoy this beautiful area.

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Seth Hochberg
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarApril 17, 2019
BackpackingNo shadeOver grown
First to Review

There is so little information on this trail on the internet. Please read before considering to do this for yourself. In a nutshell, I did this trail from April 17th - April 19th. It took me 2.5 days to complete. I was looking for a good backpacking trip to do solo that wasn't covered in snow and everywhere closer to Denver is too high of a elevation. Everything about this trip was excellent, but this gets 3 stars all because of mile 31. Mile 31 is not safe and I would NOT recommend this whole trail because of it. However, you might be able to get around it going a different way. I used the map on AllTrails and this link as my two resources. https://gotaltitudesite.wordpress.com/2017/05/03/backpacking-the-dominguez-escalante-loop/ Day 0 - 1 Mile Anxious about my first backpacking trip ever and doing too many miles I attempted to get in a night earlier so I had some buffer. I started at 7PM and there were a three or four small campsites (that were marked) within the first mile (but not after!) I stopped at the first one because I was anxious about camping after dark. Day 1 - 15 miles It was my goal to make it to the Dominguez campground by the end of the day. I wasn't really paying attention but I don't really think there were many other places to camp mile 16. Maybe there are a few places to stealth camp from mile 14 - 16. But if you make it that far you might as well go the full 16. The trail is not marked but is pretty easy to follow. Every half mile or so I realized I didn't know where the trail was and had to open up the map. My first time using Alltrails, I was impressed how well it got me back on the trail. At mile 16 there is a large campsite, with a bathroom. Also, I was under the impression there was very little water throughout the 16 miles. There was plenty of water throughout. But I might have come in a less dry season. I highly recommend a sawyer squeeze over chemical because the water is visibly dirty and I would be uneasy about using a chemical. The filter however worked well. There is a river by the campsite. This is not a destination hike, in that you are in a beautiful canyon all throughout the hike rather than working your way to one nice view. Also as a miscellaneous note: I don't think bear activity is a concern - that's what the ranger I called beforehand told me. I put my food in a tree (didn't have rope) every night. Also, another miscellaneous note: this campground has the only bathroom on the entire loop. I saw one map that said you were not allowed to poop in the woods and had to pack everything out. Just keep that in mind. Sorry if this loses me some trail respect, but I took one dump in the woods (buried everything) but I don't think I was allowed to do this. I tried to pick a more wet ground (not near water source of course) so that it would decompose better. Day 2 - 16 miles I walked mile 16 to mile 24 without a hitch. I don't think there is much reliable water in this 8 mile stretch. You are no longer in the Big Dominguez but in Wagon park. This trail is extremely easy to follow - just double check the map at any fork. Miles 16 - 20 were mostly uphill - some nice views. There was some snow and it got muddy for these miles which was minor considering the muddiness ended rather quickly. Take in the views as you go because there is no view at the highest point of the trip. But there are plenty of views as you go along. Mile 20 - 24 are nice easy coasting downhill. There's a fork here somewhere that I think you should not follow the map on Alltrails. If you want to avoid mile 31 you need to go a different way and I think it's somewhere around here. At mile 24 there is 8 miles to go without water. I would recommend carrying at least 3 liters of water. There is a small pond that is slightly off the trail at mile 24 that you need to camel up on. Mile 24 there is a fork in the road and you would expect to go left, but the map clearly has you go right. This is the Bar X trailhead (although you will see no signs saying this). You have to go past a sign that says "ADMINISTRATIVE USE ONLY". That scared me but I did it anyway. Then a mile later, I came up to a wired gate with no obvious way to get around it. So I just slipped through it, feeling nervous. Not sure if I was supposed to do that. There was a fair amount of bushwacking and the trail became extremely faint and you will have to get used to that for the next 4 miles or so. I kept getting slightly lost but the Alltrails map was easy enough to follow. At mile 28, I considered stopping, but it was only 2pm and I wanted to get to the "DOWN" part of the map on mile 31, not knowing what it would be like. It would difficult, but not impossible to find places to stealth camp along here. Mile 28, 29, 30 were fine but then there was absolutely no trail. I went from checking the map every half mile to walking with my phone continuously on to help me navigate. Finally, I got to mile 31 and I was relieved. This wasn't too bad. I ha

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Zac Brown
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 28, 2020
Hiking
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Greg Mauger
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Running
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Luke Farris
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Hiking
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Greg Mauger
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Hiking
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Keith Spring
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Backpacking
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Vanessa Glasoe
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Hiking
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La Donna Cruson
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Hiking
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Josef Baker
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMarch 14, 2020
Hiking
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Donna Ganahl
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Hiking
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Steve Loco
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Hiking
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Kate Jaquith
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Hiking
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Todd Stieferman
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Hiking
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Briana Gust
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Hiking
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Michelle Gibson
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Hiking
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Janey Freid
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Hiking
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Sonja and Antonio Gonzalez
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Hiking
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Kimala Rein
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Hiking
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Bill Lippus
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