Battlement Reservoirs

Round Trip Distance: 8.3 miles
Difficulty: Strenuous
Skill level:
Elevation: 8395 - 10,344 feet
Cellphone: 0-3 bars
Time: 4 hrs.
Trailhead: Battlement
Fee: none
Attractions: Forest hike, fishing, deer, turkeys

The Battlement Reservoirs are located in the White River National Forest south of Parachute, Colorado. Access to the chain of seven reservoirs is made by either the Lava Creek trail or the Battlement Road FR#847. This post follows the Battlement Road but don't let the name fool you, it is a very rough route and even though it is open to 4-wheel drive vehicles it is recommended that only expert drivers attempt it. Steep scree covered grades reaching 40% with mud bogs and sections of basalt (lava rocks) make for a strenuous outing no matter which means of conveyance you choose. That said, the peaceful ambiance of the pine and aspen forest with all the wildlife that make it their home seems to be more than ample compensation for the required effort.

To get to the trailhead follow the directions in the post for the Lava Creek trail. Once there follow the double track FR #847 as it heads south up the mountain from the parking area.

The rough road starts out climbing immediately. Within the first quarter mile it crosses a road leading to a wellsite.

The climb continues relentlessly up the mountain with very few places that level off much at all.

An occasional orange diamond mark the trail as a snowmobile route.

When Battlement Creek is flowing at its peak, portions of it spillover and run down the road. Those areas and others where the rain keeps the topsoil washed away leave the rocks exposed making it a rough route to follow.

After about two and a quarter miles the first bench area is reached and the trail finally levels off long enough to catch a break. Watch for deer either in the clearings or just within the trees along their edges. We also saw wild turkeys and a bristly porcupine that was only about 10 feet away when we first encountered it.

There is still more climbing to do as well as a few downhill stretches that need to be reclimbed on the return trip. There are also a couple of places where there are nothing but rocks to stumble over.

Just past the 4 mile point the Lava Creek trail connects on the right. A local hiker, that was also coming up the trail, mentioned that he turns off at this point and follows the Lava Creek trail back down the mountain to make a loop out of the two trails.

The largest of the Battlement Reservoirs is a little less than a half mile past the Lava Creek trail. Someone fell a huge pile of trees across the trail just past this reservoir making this the turnaround point. The map shows an old pack trail that continues across the dam where it crosses the boundary between the White River and Grand Mesa National Forests. Eventually it ties in with some other trails.

Primitive campsites are scattered around the lake. While we were here people were catching fish from the bank just west of the dam.

The thick forest limits how much of the surroundings that can be seen but there are a couple of places coming back down the mountain where distant vistas looking north over the tops of the Book Cliffs impress upon the mind just how much climbing it took to get up the mountain.

The profile of the trail shows the big climb followed by the ups and downs that come afterwards. You will have to click on the map and view the hi-res picture to be able to read the text.

For this post we chose to take our mountain bikes. We ended up pushing them most of the way up the mountain. Coming back down there were a few places that were so steep that it was impossible to stop without flipping your bike over your head. We don't regret taking our bikes but it would have been easier to get up the mountain without them. If you plan on hiking the trail a pair of trekking poles might make the stream crossing and steep sections easier to manage. The Battlement Reservoirs are a great option for hikers, backpackers and anyone else looking for a rough route. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.