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Hiking & Walking: Colorado > San Juan National Forest > Columbine Ranger District

Quick Facts

Salt Creek Trail

Beginning Elevation: 10,800 Feet (3366.6 Meters)
Difficulty: More Difficult
Trail Number: 559
Length: 6.0 Miles (10.0 Kilometers)
Ending Elevation: 8,200 Feet (2556.1 Meters)
Elevation Gain: 2,600 Feet (810.5 Meters)
Vehicle Accessibility: Four-wheel Drive Recommended
Usage: Light
USGS Maps: Elk Creek, Orphan Butte

Outfitters and Guides

Satellite and Topo Map

General Description

By starting from Highline Trail, the hiker drops over 2,000 feet and enjoys an all downhill excursion. The top of the trail was reconstructed in 1989, so the tread is in excellent condition. The trail switchbacks down through meadows and aspen glades. The bottom of the trail is a bit rough and steep, so watch your step.

The trail goes along the creek the last few miles and offers views that seem almost tropical. At the bottom of the trail, there is an old log crossing that could be dangerous during spring runoff. After crossing the creek, the trail merges with the Hermosa Creek Trail.

Directions from Durango, Colorado: Access #1: Travel north for 28 miles on U.S. Highway 550 to Purgatory Ski Area. From there, take Hermosa Park Road (Forest Road 578) 10.5 miles to the Hotel Draw Road (Forest Road 550) junction. Turn west here and follow it for approximately 5 miles to the Scotch Creek Road junction. Directly after this "Y" is a gate with the Colorado Trail leading south. There is adequate parking for several vehicles and Four-wheel-drive is recommended. Follow the Colorado Trail approximately 6 miles to the Salt Creek Trailhead.Access #2: Access the bottom of this trail from the Hermosa Creek Trail. To reach the trailhead for Salt Creek, the hiker must hike about 5 miles down the upper Hermosa Creek Trail.Access #3: Salt Creek Trail can also be accessed by parking at the second road closure gate off Road 564 near Orphan Butte. Walk behind the gate and on the closed road to the ridge line beyond the Colorado Trail. Look for the Salt Creek Trail sign along the Colorado Trail.

Seasonal Information:
Normally Accessible: Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day Weekend .

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Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Hiking & Walking Salt Creek Trail

Related Activities
Chris Park Group Site - There are three sites each of which accommodates up to 75 people that are available by reservation only. The park is mostly flat and open with partial shaded provided by a few large Ponderosa pines.

Haviland Lake - Haviland Lake Fishing site is a scenic area located about one mile off U.S. Highway 550. Fishing can be good and row boating is permissible.

Haviland Lake Campground - Haviland Lake Campground has scenic and convenient campsites a mile off of U.S. 550. With the Hermosa Cliffs in the background, morning views across the reservoir are memorable.

Sig Creek Campground - Sig Creek Campground is six miles west of the Purgatory resort, on the Hermosa Park Road (Forest Road 578). Nine sites on four acres sit on a south-facing hillside about 0.25 mile from the East Fork of Hermosa Creek.

More Information
Frequently Asked Questions
Email the Local Ranger

Visitor Information:

Columbine Ranger District, 367 South Pearl Street, P.O. Box 439 , Bayfield, CO, 81122, Phone: 970-884-2512, Fax: 970-884-2428, TTY: 970-884-1433


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