Fish Creek

Round Trip Distance: 4.6 miles
Difficulty: Strenuous
Elevation: 8671 - 9413 feet
Cellphone: 0 bars
Time: 2 hrs. 30 mins.
Trailhead: Fish Creek
Fee: none
Attractions: Forest hike, deer, fishing

The Fish Creek trail is located in the Silver Jack area of the Mountain Division of the Uncompahgre National Forest east of Montrose, Colorado. The trail begins at the forest service boundary along the Cimarron River and climbs up to the Fish Creek Reservoirs. Being a hiking and horseback only trail it sees a lot less use than the nearby ATV trails. This hike has an overall elevation gain of over 800 feet along a trail that can be a little hard to follow in places.

To get to the trailhead travel east on Highway 50 from Montrose for just over 20 miles and turn south on the Big Cimarron Road. The Big Cimarron Road isn't paved but it is treated to keep the dust down. The Uncompahgre National Forest boundary is reached at about 15 miles. There is a small pullout on the east side of the road before crossing the bridge over the Cimarron River. A restroom can be found across the bridge at the Big Cimarron campground.

The trail begins on the west side of the road. At present there isn't a sign designating what trail this is.

The climbing begins in earnest after leaving the trailhead but it soon begins leveling off.

Stay to the right at the first fork you come to. This is the point where the Fox Creek trail begins.

Portions of the trail pass through thick stands of spruce and aspen trees.

Other sections of the trail are so overgrown that the trail practically disappears. The larkspur here reaches over 7 feet tall with monkshood not far behind. You have probably guessed that this is a good hike to leave the shorts at home and wear a long sleeve shirt and pants. The temperatures are a lot cooler at this altitude so that may be what you want to wear anyway.

Right around 1 mile from the trailhead there is a fork in the trail. The right fork looks well traveled at first but it only leads to a locked gate at a private property boundary. Staying to the left at this point will keep you on the Fish Creek trail and after a short distance you may be able to see a house through the trees built along the shore of a small lake. At the time of this post that property was sporting a for sale sign.

It can get confusing on less traveled trails knowing whether you are still on the designated route or if you have gone astray on a game trail. One thing that we always look for are cut logs from trees that have fallen across the trail and later been cleared by the Forest Service. Here we even found some that had been recently cut letting us know that they still cared about the trail enough to do a little maintenance.

The trail once again becomes more obvious and easy to follow the closer it gets to the reservoirs.

As the trail approaches Fish Creek Reservoir #2 there is another fork where the left branch leads to Hampton Lake. At this point you can turn around or continue along the shoreline for a while and explore the area.

I haven't heard any fishing reports but seeing a blue heron is always a good sign. You would be amazed at how big a fish these guys can catch.

This is the 3rd wikiup, left over from the days when the Ute Indians roamed the land, we have seen around the Silver Jack area.

At first we thought we had come across an elk rub but after a closer inspection of the photo it looks like there are teeth marks so either an elk or maybe a porcupine was having lunch here. We should have checked around the base of the tree for porcupine scat but since we didn't it will have to remain a mystery.

The Big Cimarron River has a good flow of water to it. It is popular fishing for rainbow and brook trout as well as kokanee salmon.

This trail didn't show up on our Delorme GPS so we relied heavily on the maps we were carrying. The Forest Service has one map you can print out that shows an overview of the area without any topo information. There is also an Uncompahgre National Forest Mountain Division map that the Forest Service puts out that you can buy at most any of the local sporting good stores. It shows all the official trails and roads and includes a lot more detail. And then again there is the option of downloading our GPS file from the top of this post and making your own map. Whatever it takes to keep you from getting lost and help you have an enjoyable time on the Fish Creek trail. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.