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Backpacking: Colorado > Rio Grande National Forest > Divide Ranger District

Quick Facts

Ute Creek Trail

Beginning Elevation: 9,600 Feet (2992.5 Meters)
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation Gain: 2,200 Feet (685.8 Meters)
Ending Elevation: 11,800 Feet (3678.3 Meters) Ends at the junction with the Continental Divide Trail #813 near the lower end of Twin Ute Lakes
Length, One-way: 12.1 Miles (20.17 Kilometers)
Trail Number: 819
Usage: Heavy
USGS Maps: Rio Grande Pyramid

Satellite and Topo Map

General Description

Ute Creek Trail #819 is the major access route into the vast Ute Basin Area. Four major fishable lakes sit below the Continental Divide in the beautiful basin. The Ute Trail is a popular route with Weminuche Wilderness visitors. Many trail travel options are available once the hiker reaches the open basin area above Black Lake. Fishing is rated good to excellent in the creeks and lakes of the Ute Drainage.

Camera clicking is common along this trail. Inspiring views of "The Window" and "The Rio Grande Pyramid" will long be remembered by trail users.

The main Ute Creek Trail begins with a difficult crossing of the Rio Grande River. Do NOT use the private footbridge on the Sky Hi Ranch for any purpose. Early summer crossings of the river at the trailhead should not be attempted. After the river crossing, the trail climbs at a gentle grade along the east-facing slope of Ute Creek. Approximately 2.0 miles from the trailhead, the trail is carved into a short 1/4 mile segment of cliff-like topography and then begins to closely parallel Ute Creek for about a mile in distance.

The trail will then turn gradually away from the immediate creek bottom and start a steep ascent toward Black Lake. Several switchbacks must be negotiated during the climb. Immediately after passing the shore of Black Lake, the trail will break out in the vast open meadow area at the confluence of East, West, and Middle Ute Creeks. The final segment of this trail involves crossing of three small tributaries at the headwater area of Middle Ute Creek. Shortly after the third crossing, the trail makes a short climb to its junction with the Continental Divide Trail at Twin Ute Lakes. The trail is well-defined and easy to follow for its entire length.

Directions from Creede, Colorado: Travel south on Colorado Highway 149 for 20.1 miles to Forest Road #520 (Upper Rio Grande River Road). Go approximately 16.0 miles to the Ute Creek Trailhead. Ute Creek Trail #819 begins on the south bank of the Rio Grande River. If crossing of the Rio Grande River appears hazardous, do not proceed. Do NOT use the footbridge on the nearby Sky Hi Ranch. It is for private use only!

Seasonal Information:
Normally Open: June through September (NOTE: Hikers using the trail in June can expect some high water crossings on most streams.) .

Current Conditions & Trip Reports
Ranger TipThe bridge on Sky Hi Ranch is not available for public use. Please ford the river and respect private property rights.

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Difficulty: Moderate
Number of People Encountered: 25-50 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Neutral
Report: Incredible scenery--absolutely unbelievable! Rain every day, however (our trip in late July.) Heavy horse traffic and lots of bothersome flies in the first 4 miles. Nice camp sites scattered around, but heavy use means little fire wood available. If planning to overnight at Black Lake, suggest checking out camp sites just above the lake. Sites below lake heavily used but very good sites. For good fishing, go over CD to Flint Lake.

Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Backpacking From Black Lake to just below Twin Ute Lakes
ICON Cold Water Fishing Creeks and lakes of Ute Drainage
ICON Hiking & Walking Ute Creek Trail
ICON Horseback Riding Well-defined and easy to follow

Related Activities
Continental Divide - Weminuche Pass to Hunchback P - Many vacation adventures await visitors to this segment of the Continental Divide Trail. The raw beauty and inspiring views in this area will long be etched in the visitor's memories.

Lost Trail Campground - The campground is located 38.2 miles southwest of Creede on Forest Road 520. There are numerous attractions to tempt the camper.

Lost Trail Creek - Excellent views and good fishing are both possible along this trail. Evidence of recent and historic mining activity is visible near Carson Pass on the Continental Divide.

Reservoir (rio Grande) Picnic Ground - This site overlooks Rio Grande Reservoir and has 4 picnic units, each with tables and fireplaces.

Rio Grande Reservoir - This is a scenic high mountain reservoir with access to wonderful outdoor recreation opportunities. There are five campgrounds, picnic areas, many trails leading from the area and a jeep road with a historical site.

Thirty Mile Creek Trailhead - Campground and trailhead are located 31.1 miles southwest of Creede on Forest Road #520. Adjacent to Rio Grande River and Thirty Mile Resort.

Thirtymile Campground - Campground and trailhead are located 31.1 miles southwest of Creede on Forest Road #520. Adjacent to Rio Grande River and Thirty Mile Resort.

Ute Creek Trailhead - The Trailhead Bulletin Board provides a district map as well as Weminuche Wilderness maps and information and trail registration forms.

More Information
Frequently Asked Questions
Email the Local Ranger

Visitor Information:

Divide Ranger Station, 13308 West US Highway 160, P.O. Box 40 , Del Norte, CO, 81132, Phone: 719-657-3321, TTY: 719-657-6038


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