Round Trip Distance: 0.9 miles
Elevation: 6641 - 6694 feet
Cellphone: 0 bars
Time: 30 mins.
Trailhead: Oak Leaf
Attractions: Camping/fishing access
The Oak Leaf trail is located in the Pa-Co-Chu-Puk area of Ridgway State Park about 7 miles north of the town of Ridgway, Colorado. The Pa-Co-Chu-Puk area of the park is the area below the dam of Ridgway Reservoir where the tailwaters flow into the Uncompahgre River. This stretch of water has become a popular fishery for anglers seeking to catch a few of its trophy rainbow and brown trout. The Oak Leaf trail provides access to some prime fishing spots along the river as well as some of the parks walk-in campsites.
The Oak Leaf trailhead lies across the footbridge over the Uncompahgre River from the day use parking area. The trail begins a loop at the trailhead. For this post we follow the paved path to the right towards the walk-in campsites and return back along the river to this spot.
The trail is paved for the first few hundred feet.
A fork comes up at the end of the pavement where the Loop H walk-in camping area begins. Stay to the left at this point to continue along the Oak Leaf trail.
The campsites here are equipped with tent pads, tables and bear boxes to store your food, soap and toothpaste in.
After passing by the campsites in this part of Loop H the Oak Leaf trail takes off on its own.
The upper portion of the Oak Leaf trail is nice and wide and easy to follow.
From one vantage point you can see the river below and the return route that the Oak Leaf trail takes along its banks.
Near the southernmost point of the loop there is a fork. The main route turns left at this point. The trail to the right looks like a better choice but it has been blocked off.
As the trail loops around it becomes narrower and begins getting crowded out by the lush vegetation.
Eventually the trail reaches the bank of the river and follows it downstream.
If you happen to have your fly or casting rod with you your arm might begin twitching a little when you sight the rapids and plunge pools that you know are holding that lunker you've been dreaming about. The waters here are open to flies and artificial lures only and all fish must be returned to the water immediately. So file those barbs off your hooks and get busy because fish have been caught here that measured up to 36 inches.
The trail continues downstream until it gets back to the paved path and the footbridge. The last part of the trail gets a little more primitive than the rest but it is still easy to follow and hike. We have actually riden our mountain bikes around the loop on several occasions. If you are here for the fishing the Park Rangers can apprise you of the latest conditions. You can also checkout their webpage for information before hand. The Conoco Station in Ridgway is a good place to get tackle and the owner has a lot of experience with these waters. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.