Little Bear Lake

Rating: 
Round Trip Distance: 12.1 miles
Difficulty: Strenuous
Elevation: 8095 - 8980 feet
Cellphone: 0-3 bars
Time: 4 hrs. 30 mins.
Trailhead: Basin/Little Creek Trail
Fee: none
Attractions: Forest hike, deer, mushrooms, berries




The Little Bear Lake trail is located in the Uncompahgre National Forest near Grand Junction, Colorado. The trail begins off of the Basin Trail and runs through the woods to a point at the end of a ridge overlooking the Gill Creek trail area. The trail is open to all modes of transport from mountain bike to 4-wheel drives.


This post begins at the trailheads for the Basin and Little Creek trails located at the end of the Big Creek Road about 6 miles off of Divide Road. The Big Creek Road can get pretty sloppy in places during wet weather. Most of the time it takes it 1 or 2 days to dry up enough after a rain for a 2-wheel drive vehicle to safely travel it. The Big Creek Road probably officially ends at the Big Creek Reservoir turnoff but if you go past there and continue past the Big Creek Ranch, which sits right next to the road, you will end up here.


Follow the Basin trail away from the trailhead and at 0.4 miles stay on the Basin trail as it turns sharply westward at its junction with the East Unaweep trail.


The Basin trail does a lot of climbing, gaining a little over 830 feet, to where the Little Bear Lake trail begins.


At 2.7 miles the Little Bear Lake trail departs on the right. The hiking through this area is very pleasant with widely spaced ponderosa pines and aspen trees lining the trail.


Around 3 1/4 miles the trail passes through the intersection of the East Unaweep trail and the Unaweep trail. Little Bear Lake is off to the left at this point within 100 yards of the trail.


The Uncompahgre offers some of the best hiking that you can find anywhere if you are looking for a peaceful excursion into the woods with opportunities to see deer, elk, bear and wild turkeys.


We measured 4.83 miles from the trailhead to this green gate that divides two pastures


From up here you can look down into the Big Creek Basin. Castro Reservoir is barely visible behind the opposite mountain.


The trail ends at a slab of slickrock near the end of the ridge.


Gill Creek is visible on the east side of the ridge.


A long sweeping view of Unaweep Canyon is visible on the west side of the ridge but you have to work your way through thick growths of manzanita bushes to see it.


This is a picture of Little Bear Lake located near the Unaweep trail junction. I hope you weren't planning on launching a boat.


Besides a few pin cherries there are several raspberry patches here and there. We have also filled several bags with mushrooms on previous trips.


When hiking on the Uncompahgre if you aren't seeing any wildlife it might be because you are making a lot of noise and they are running off before you get to them. Sometimes it is easier for someone on an ATV to see deer. Whether it is due to the animals getting used to the sound approaching from a distance or because they can't tell which way it is coming from is hard to say. Of course, the key to seeing wildlife anywhere is usually to come back often to increase your odds. Long hikes like Little Bear Lake tend to also increase your odds. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.