Ute Creek

Round Trip Distance: 12.8 miles
Difficulty: Moderate +
MTB Skill level:
Elevation: 7304- 8825 feet
Cellphone: 0-2 bars
Time: 6 hrs. 30 mins.
Trailhead: Ute Creek
Fee: none
Attractions: Forest hike

The Ute Creek trail is located in the Uncompahgre National Forest near Grand Junction, Colorado. The trail begins off of the Uranium Road where it descends the Indian Creek drainage for about 2 and a half miles where it turns and begins traveling across the lower slopes of the plateau for another 4 miles or so until it comes to an end at a junction with FR #405.2B and FR #405.2C. Enroute it is connected to by the Ute Creek Cutoff and the Cow Creek trails.

To get to the trailhead follow Highway 141 toward Gateway for 14.2 miles from its junction with Highway 50 near the town of Whitewater. Turn left onto the Divide Road and follow it for 15.5 miles and turn right onto the Uranium Road. Continue for another 3.3 miles where the trailhead is on the right hand side of the road. There isn't an official parking area but it is possible to pull over into the grass and get out of the way of traffic.

After passing through a trail squeeze that restricts access to nothing wider than a dirt bike the first quarter mile of the trail follows a gentle path through stands of aspen trees.

From there the trail begins descending a draw where it gets rougher as it transitions to a rockier surface.

At the 1 mile point the trail passes through a gate. From here there begins to be sections of trail that flatten out a bit that are mixed in with the general downhill trend.

Within a half mile of the gate the trail passes through a lovely long meadow where it is met on the left by the Ute Creek Cutoff trail which is open only to hiking and horseback riding.

As the trail approaches the 2.5 mile point it begins turning more toward the north where it crosses a saddle in the ridge line. The aspen trees give way to oakbrush and manzanita bushes. Distant views of the La Sal Mountains appear with the deep chasms of the likes of John Brown Canyon at their base.

As the trail crosses the ridge much of the remaining route can be seen stretching off in the distance.

At the 4.7 mile point the Ute Creek trail is connected to on the right by the Cow Creek trail which is open only to hiking and horseback riding. The Cow Creek trail begins up on the plateau off of the Rim trail.

After passing the Cow Creek intersection the trail continues across gently rolling hills where sagebrush flats are dotted with pinyon pines and groves of ponderosas that flow down from the higher elevations.

The route passes through another trail squeeze and comes to an end at the junction of Forest Roads #405.2B and #405.2C. From here you can go to the right where it leads to the Snowshoe trail that leads back up to the Rim trail or to the left where you can work your way down to Highway 141 near Gateway.

This is a photo of Woody and the gang from the Denver area that were bikepacking their way to Moab via a Hut to Hut route.

The night before taking the photos for this post there was a deluge of rain that thoroughly soaked the area. For much of the morning the sun was blocked by clouds that were made as much of the moisture was steaming its way back to where it was the day before as though it had only touched down for a short rest before continuing on its way. Later in the day sunshine was able to once again bathe the forest with its rays for a short time before the daily monsoon cycle brought another round of moisture. The Ute Creek trail is relatively long for a day hike and would require a great deal of stamina to mountain bike in both directions. Horseback riders should be able to find enough water along the way in non drought years whereas dirt bikers will probably just have a great time doing their thing. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.