Smelter Mountain serves as outdoor classroom during COVID-19

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Smelter Mountain serves as outdoor classroom during COVID-19

Turn a hike into a learning lesson for kids
Seen from the top of the Sky Steps, the summit of Smelter Mountain is the midpoint of an east-west running ridge stretching from the Animas River in southwest Durango to Wildcat Canyon. The hiking trail goes up the ridgeline on the left.
Ascend the southeast ridge to the East End Viewpoint, the black-line trail. To reach the summit walk west on a service road, the blue-line. To access the trail from the Dog Park follow the red-line.

Smelter Mountain serves as outdoor classroom during COVID-19

Seen from the top of the Sky Steps, the summit of Smelter Mountain is the midpoint of an east-west running ridge stretching from the Animas River in southwest Durango to Wildcat Canyon. The hiking trail goes up the ridgeline on the left.
Ascend the southeast ridge to the East End Viewpoint, the black-line trail. To reach the summit walk west on a service road, the blue-line. To access the trail from the Dog Park follow the red-line.
Smelter Quiz

NOTE: Teachers and students will find photographs illustrating everything we have learned in this Outdoor Classroom on my website, Earthline: The American West.
1. How did Smelter Mountain get its name?2. What do geologists call a long, narrow ridge with equally steep slopes on both flanks? Extra Credit: Smelter Mountain is a continuation of what ridge on the east side of the Animas River?3. What are the three rock formations in the Mesa Verde Group? 4. Order them oldest to youngest. 5. Name the color of each formation.6. How did the rounded cobbles and boulders in the alluvial pocket get way up on the hill? 7. Two kinds of junipers live on Smelter Mountain. What are they and how do you tell them apart?8. What plant bears tasty fruit in the fall? 9. What is the mountain range northwest of Durango?10. What is the mountain range north and east of Durango?

Travel Basics

Travel: Turn west off U.S. Highway 550 at South Camino del Rio. This is the first signal south of Santa Rita Park. As soon as the road starts to straighten, turn right onto County Road 210. In less than 0.1 mile, turn right on Smelter Place. Trailhead parking is on the left in a dirt lot before the baseball diamonds.

Distance and Elevation Gain Roundtrip: East End Viewpoint is 2 miles with 1,050 feet of climbing. Smelter Mountain summit: add 2 miles and 450 feet of vertical. Dog Park: add 2.4 miles and 100 feet of gain.

Total Time: 1 to 2½ hours from the trailhead to East End Viewpoint and back.

Difficulty: Unmaintained trail; navigation easy; no exposure assuming you stay a safe distance from the cliff.

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