Scenic overlooks into KP Canyon and a day hike that can be stretched into a loop of moderate length are two of the prime features offered by KP Rim Trail (# 315).
The trail is open to hiking and horseback riding, but like all Wilderness and Primitive Area trails, motorized and mechanized travel of any kind are prohibited.
This relatively short trail follows a fenceline along a more or less flat ridge top that separates KP and Grant Creek drainages. For its entire length, the KP Rim Trail stays within a high country ecosystem where Douglas Fir, white fir and ponderosa pine are the dominant tree species. The area through which this trail and connecting Steeple Creek Trail (# 73) pass is a good place to see elk and mule deer, especially if you travel quietly and keep a sharp eye on open areas ahead. This trail is also a good place to see some of the bird species that inhabit the highlands of the Alpine District, including the Stellers jay that is blue colored but not a blue jay. Watch the trees for these deep indigo-hued birds with their jaunty black topnots. They're cousins of, but not identical to, the eastern blue jay. Like most jays, Stellers jays have a unique character all their own. Some of them even assert their individuality by wearing a tasteful white eye stripe.
About a mile from the trailhead, openings in the tree canopy offer views of KP Canyon and its southern slopes. If you cross the fence and walk a few yards out to the rim the views get even better. A set of sharp eyes or a pair of binoculars will help you to see the lookout tower at the summit of Blue Peak across the canyon, and while you're looking keep an eye out for bighorn sheep. They're occasionally spotted on the steep slopes below.
A little over two miles from its starting point, the KP Rim Trail ends at its junction with the Steeple Creek Trail (# 73). If you'd rather cover new ground than retrace your steps, you can turn north along the connecting trail and hike it 3.3 miles to Hannagan Meadow. This trail traverses more alpine habitat known for its plentiful wildlife.
On an environmental note, if you're up on your tree species you'll notice the absence of Engelmann Spruce in this area. This is due to an infestation of mistletoe which has virtually eliminated this valuable tree species from a place where it was once plentiful.
0.0 Trailhead parking just off Highway 191. Trail crosses fence. KP Rim Trail branches to the left (east) and North Fork KP Trail (# 93) goes to the right (southwest).
0.6 Trail crosses through gate in fence.
1.3 First good views of KP Canyon to the south.
1.7 Rocky point with excellent views of KP Canyon.
2.2 Junction with Steeple Trail (# 73)
USGS Map: Strayhorse
At a Glance
May through October
No mechanized vehicles (including mountain bikes) permitted in Primitive Area.
Willow Spring and surface runoff provide water suitable for stock animals only.