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

Quick Facts

Fern Creek Trail

Beginning Elevation: 9,200 Feet (2867.8 Meters)
Difficulty: Easy to Difficult
Elevation Gain: 600 Feet (187.0 Meters)
Ending Elevation: 9,800 Feet (3054.9 Meters)
Length, One-way: 15.0 Miles (25.0 Kilometers)
Trail Number: 815
Usage: Heavy
USGS Maps: Little Squaw Creek, Workman Creek

Satellite and Topo Map

General Description

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.

Seasonal Information:
Normally Open: July through September .

Current Conditions & Trip Reports
Snowed in Updated: 2000-05-09 10:41:00.0

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Time of Day: midday
Difficulty: Hard
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Not Recommended
Report: Rocky narrow trail for an ATV. Many switchbacks. We went as far as Big Ruby Lake. Beautiful lake.
Conditions: Difficult coming down, a member of our party rolled their ATV on one of the many switchbacks.

Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Backpacking Best between Little Ruby Lake and Chief Mountain areas
ICON Cold Water Fishing Big and Little Ruby Lakes; Texas Creek; Little Squaw Creek
ICON Hiking & Walking Fern Creek Trail
ICON Horseback Riding Varied terrain
ICON Mountain Biking Varied terrain
ICON Motorcycle Riding Motorized to Little Ruby Lake, Nonmotorized above lake

Related Activities
Red Lakes Trail - The Red Lake Trail climbs the La Manga Creek Valley to Jarosa Mesa. Red Lake, sitting in a bowl at the head of the Rito Colorado, is popular for fishing and camping.

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.

River Hill Campground - This campground has good screening with trees on many sites and remains full from mid-June through August. It is adjacent to Rio Grande River and Little Squaw Resort.

Squaw Creek Trail - The trail primarily parallels Squaw Creek from Thirty Mile Campground to the Continental Divide. Good fishing is possible along Squaw Creek and nice camping areas are easy to find along the trail.

Texas Creek Trail - The Texas Creek Trail is lightly used and provides access to the popular Ruby Lake area and Trout Lake. From Big Ruby Lake either this trail or Red Lakes Trail (#889) will provide access to Red Lakes and Trout Lake.

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.

More Information

Visitor Information:

Alamosa Visitor Information Center, Cole Park , Alamosa, CO, 81101, Phone: 719-589-4840, bluskys@alamosa.org


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