Gill Creek

Round Trip Distance: 3+ miles
Difficulty: Strenuous
Elevation: 7889 - 8106 feet
Cellphone: 0 bars
Time: 2 hrs.
Trailhead: Gill ATV Trail
Fee: none
Attractions: Forest hike, deer, elk

The Gill Creek trail is located in the northern area of the Plateau Division of the Uncompahgre National Forest near Grand Junction, Colorado. The trail begins off of the Gill ATV trail where it follows Gill Creek downstream through a canyon. At one time the trail could be followed all the way off the plateau to Highway 141 in Unaweep Canyon. Sections of private property have made getting all the way out to Highway 141 impossible without trespassing although the Forest Service website still describes the trail as going to that point even after acknowledging the private property.

To get to the beginning of the trail follow the Divide Road from Highway 141 in Unaweep Canyon. When you get to the Big Creek Road turn right and follow it to Forest Road #403.2A. Low clearance vehicles can park here and begin hiking. Medium clearance vehicles can continue for another 0.8 miles to the Gill ATV trailhead. From the Gill ATV trailhead it is right at 0.7 miles to the Gill Creek trail. On the day that we took the photos for this post we rode our mountain bikes to where the Gill Creek trail begins and locked them to a tree.

As the trail heads over the hill it is barely distinguishable from the surrounding sagebrush. If you look down the valley to where the creek is you should be able to spot the trail running along the north side of it and use that as a target to aim for.

Before the trail reaches the creek there is an old trail marker that is sticking up above the sagebrush. It isn't really visible until you get at least half way down the hill.

The next route finding challenge, albeit a small one, is to find a place to cross the creek. The creek is usually shallow and narrow enough to step across if you pick the right spot.

After crossing the creek there is another trail marker that is easy to spot.

From there the trail gets easier to follow for the next half mile or so.

As the trail climbs along the side of the mountain it gets brushy in spots and once again becomes harder to follow. These cut logs were an obvious clue for the correct route to take at one point.

As the trail cuts across a ridge you can look back up Gill Creek and take condolence that even though the trail is hard to follow the view is pretty nice.

The trail works its way around the mountain where Unaweep Canyon comes into view. In places the trail is obvious but in others the only thing to go by are a few trees that have had their branches trimmed away. Up to this point we were also able to follow a set of fresh elk tracks and scat from a herd that was making use of the trail.

The elk tracks eventually disappeared and so did any signs of the trail. We could look further down the canyon and see a section of the trail but it didn't look worth trying to get to it so even though Unaweep Canyon was tantalizingly close this became the turnaround point.

Since we couldn't make it all the way through the canyon the private property was never an issue. The Forest Service website mentions that the trail goes all the way to Highway 141 but also states that there is no trailhead there. From the top there are 2 alternate routes from which to start the Gill Creek trail. One is to hike along the west side of the creek beginning at the Gill ATV trailhead. We haven't gone that way so we can't say anything about it. Another route that we have taken is to begin at the beginning of the Gill Spur trail. After following it for a short distance there is a trail that breaks off and travels along North Gill Creek to the Gill Creek trail. The part of the Gill Creek trail that we did do was very scenic and made for an interesting outing. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.