Hermosa Creek, Colorado, US
|Usual Difficulty||IV-V (for normal flows)|
Hermosa Creek, north of Durango, is another special whitewater run in the Animas River Valley. It begins west of the Purgatory Ski Area, then flows southeast before reaching the Animas River below the intersection of FR 576 and US Highway 550 about 8 miles north of Durango. This Class IV to IV+ creek run is drop dead beautiful, with tall aspen and old-growth spruce forests lining its banks. Unfortunately, many of those trees eventually find their way into the creekbed, so there is lots of wood. The upper few miles are so clogged with log jams that paddling frequently gives way to portages. However, the lower 6.5 miles above the Town of Hermosa offers a clearer channel that has far fewer trees to act as obstacles, allowing for continuous wave train.
Getting to the Hermosa Creek put-in is half driving and half hiking. Fortunately, the driving half is uphill, while the hiking half (about 3.5 miles) is downhill, adn the trail is ok for dragging yoru boat. The payoff for the effort is a beautiful and exciting Class IV whitewater run. A diversion dam just above the take-out at the bridge across the creek on US Highway 550 requires a portage (river right).
WWSR identifies the boatable flow range as 500-1000+cfs. There is no gage, so visual estimates are needed.