Big Fish

Round Trip Distance: 6.4 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation: 8769 - 9378 feet
Cellphone: 0 bars
Time: 3 hrs. 30 mins.
Trailhead: Big Fish
Fee: none
Attractions: Scenic lake, fishing

The Big Fish trail is east of Meeker, Colorado in the Flat Tops Wilderness Area of the White River National Forest. Beginning at the Himes Peak Campground the trail crosses the North Fork of the White River and parallels Big Fish Creek up to a scenic lake by the same name. From there it continues all the way up onto the Flat Tops where it comes to an end at the Oyster Lake trail.

To get there from Meeker head north on Highway 13 for 1 mile and turn east toward Buford on County Road 8. Continue for 38.7 miles and turn right onto the Trappers Lake Road. The Buford Road, CR #8, is paved up to the Forest Service boundary where it turns to gravel. After turning onto the Trappers Lake Road watch for the Himes Peak Campground sign on the right hand side of the road around the 4.3 mile point from CR #8.

The campground has a few pull-through and back-in sites for RVs as well as tent sites and a restroom. There is no fee for parking at the trailhead which is just outside of the campground.

The trail starts out passing through a small grove of aspens before coming out into the open where it cuts across a grassy meadow and down to a sturdy bridge that takes it over the North Fork of the White River. Fishermen can access the banks of the river for a short distance both upstream and down before encountering private property.

A short distance after the trail crosses the river it comes to a fence and the boundary of the Flat Tops Wilderness Area. Be sure to close the gate as there are usually cows grazing up toward Big Fish Lake all through the summer and early fall.

From there the trail rounds the shoulder of the mountain and enters the Big Fish Creek drainage where it continues upstream.

The elevation gain is so gradual as the trail heads up the draw that it is barely noticeable. Especially in comparison to some of the neighboring trails. The only steep parts of the trail don't come up until just before reaching Big Fish Lake.

Near the 1.3 mile point from the trailhead the Boulder Lake trail branches off on the right. That trail crosses the creek and switchbacks up the mountain on the other side for 2.3 miles before it reaches Boulder Lake.

Along the way up the Big Fish trail there are several small streams to cross where trekking poles can come in handy for keeping your balance on the logs and rocks. The later in the year that you make the hike the less water you will encounter.

At the 2 mile point the trail passes by the cascading Bessies Falls.

From Bessies Falls it is just over 1 mile to Big Fish Lake. It is easy to access the banks along the lake for fishing or just for relaxing and enjoying a picnic. On the day that we took these photos we came across groups with children that ranged from toddlers and on up to young adults and they all had smiles.

The Big Fish trail continues for another 3.3 miles before coming to an end at the Oyster Lakes trail. A little over a mile past Big Fish Lake is the Himes Peak trail that goes past Florence Lake and then on around Himes Peak to the Trappers Lake campgrounds area. While we did see a few backpackers, some with young children, the majority of people were day hikers. There are many good hiking and backpacking opportunities in the area as well as horseback riding whether you bring your own mount or stop at one of the riding stables. The Big Fish trail is one of the easiest routes out of the many choices. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.