Little Gem Reservoir

Rating: 
Round Trip Distance: 1.4 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 10,080 - 10,204 feet
Cellphone: 0-1 bars
Time: 1 hr.
Trailhead: Island Lake Area
Fee: none
Attractions: Forest hike, fishing




The Little Gem Reservoir is located in the Grand Mesa National Forest near Grand Junction, Colorado. The reservoir sits below the much larger Island Lake where an old jeep road serves as the trail. The trail is used frequently by campers and fishermen that are visiting the Island Lake area.


The unmarked trail begins off of Forest Road #116 just east of the Island Lake Day Use Area. It can also be accessed via a short spur trail from the Granby Road. Forest Road #116 is the gravel road that travels around the south side of Island Lake off of Highway 65. The gate is locked and only opened for administrative use so be sure not to park in front of it.


The trail starts out along a scenic route that takes it past open areas that are filled with wildflowers and through small stands of spruce trees.


The smell of the forest is ever present on this leisurely hike.


After paralleling the road for a quarter mile or so the trail comes out into the open on a grassy slope and begins descending toward Little Gem.


At this point the destination is well within view.


Once the reservoir is reached the trail can be extended for a short distance by crossing the dam and hiking along the opposite shore. At the time that we were there we eventually reached a spot where downed trees across the trail made it difficult to continue.


The stream below the dam looks as inviting a place to fish as the reservoir itself.


In an area with over 300 lakes its a little harder for any one body of water to stand out yet every time you visit a new one its uniqueness appears.


The Yellow-Bellied Marmot is the largest member of the squirrel family and they are quite common on the Grand Mesa and always fun to watch as they scurry among the boulders. Marmots spend over half of the year in hibernation but since most people don't go to places where marmots live until the warmer months of summer when the marmots are active they always seem to be out and about.


We counted 21 varieties of wildflowers on this short hike including these Colorado Columbines.


Most of the people that visit the Little Gem Reservoir are already in the area at one of the campgrounds. While hiking the Granby Road we noticed several groups that had hiked down to it so we decided to check it out. As we are always getting requests for short family hikes we decided to add Little Gem to the list. Since it was 60F up here and 100F down in the valley it made for a pretty good place to spend a summers day. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.