The trail begins by making a rather steady and strong 3 1/2 mile climb towards Little Ruby Lake. A few short, flat stretches help give the hiker a short breather, but more climbing lies ahead. After reaching Little Ruby Lake, the trail grade flattens out, makes a short climb through a small patch of spruce, then heads gradually downhill to Texas Creek.
The climb out of Texas Creek is neither long nor difficult. For a mile beyond Texas Creek, the trail passes through the flat plateau country known as California Park. It then makes a steep, winding descent through spruce timber and into the Little Squaw Creek bottom. Shortly after reaching the scattered park-like area in the narrow Little Squaw Creek Canyon, the trail reaches the rickety old sheep bridge crossing. The trail passes through some fir-spruce timber stands and then cuts sharply up toward Chief Mountain.
Once out of the timber, the trail continues to climb through some grassy parks for about another mile. The trail will begin heading down a small grass draw and shortly the trail tread will become very evident. The trail continues downward at a gradual grade before reaching an old burn area where it makes a steep descent to the Squaw Creek Trail.
The Fern Creek Trail is primarily used for access to the popular Ruby Lake Area. Beyond the Ruby Lake Area toward Little Squaw Creek and Big Squaw Creek is often used very lightly in the summer months. The best camping areas along this trail are between the Little Ruby Lake and Chief Mountain areas. Most trail users go to Big Ruby Lake and camp near the old cabins on the north shore of the lake. The Texas Creek can make for wet feet, but is not hazardous. Little Squaw Creek has a foot bridge for hiker to use. A 1 to 1 1/2 mile segment of the trail in the lower Chief Mountain Area can be hard to follow as no defined trail tread exists. For best results, look for stock driveway markers on trees and posts. The best fishing opportunities along the trail are at Big Ruby Lake and Little Ruby Lake, as well as in Texas Creek and Little Squaw Creek.
Directions from Creede: Drive approximately 16 miles southwest of Creede on Highway 149 to the intersection of Highway 149 and Fern Creek Road (Forest Development Road 522). The intersection is approximately 1/4 mile past the turnoff to the Wetherill Ranch. Drive 1 1/4 miles to the Fern Creek Trailhead.
July through September .