Skinny Fish

Round Trip Distance: 5.2 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation: 9,353 - 10,190 feet
Cellphone: 0 bars
Time: 3 hrs. 30 mins.
Trailhead: Skinny Fish
Fee: none
Attractions: Scenic lake, fishing

The Skinny Fish trail is located east of Meeker, Colorado in the Flat Tops Wilderness Area of the White River National Forest. Beginning off of the Trappers Lake Road the trail climbs steadily for just over 2.5 miles before reaching the scenic Skinny Fish Lake which sits at the head of the basin below a section of cliffs known as the China Wall. The trail is popular with backpackers, fishermen and horseback riders alike.

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 the Skinny Fish trailhead will be on the left near the 8 mile point. There is quite a bit of room for parking including for horse trailers.

The easy to follow trail starts out moderately steep as it switchbacks up the grassy slopes before entering groves of aspens and conifers.

As the trail climbs through the trees it crosses into the Flat Tops Wilderness Area.

Just past the half mile point the trail comes to a bridge that takes it over Skinny Fish Creek. There is a crossing for horses just below the bridge that makes a good watering hole.

The middle part of the trail levels off quite a bit and makes for some very pleasant hiking. We saw deer in this area as well as some bear scat.

Near the 1 mile point from the trailhead the Lost Lakes trail branches off on the left.

Around the 2 mile point the McGinnis Lake trail branches off on the right.

A few switchbacks come into play for the last half mile of the trail as the terrain gets steeper once again.

The calm reflective water of Skinny Fish Lake was reward enough for the hike up to the quiet basin. Fishing is said to be good, generally, although on this morning there seemed to be little activity.

Heading back down the trail there are some nice views of the area beyond Trappers Lake. At one point you can get a glimpse of shoulders of Trappers Peak (11, 002 ft.) but the summit never quite reveals itself.

It is rare not to see any vehicles at the Skinny Fish trailhead. On this day there were also 3 horse trailers parked here that aren't in this photo. We saw one group of backpackers that were hiking down the trail that had spent the night at the lake and another group that were still camped up there. The only other people we saw were on horseback so it's hard to say where all the folks in the other vehicles were hiding out. We mention that because you can't always correlate how many people you will meet with the number of vehicles at the trailhead. Wilderness Area etiquette is to camp out of view of the trail and never within 100 feet of water so you could always hike right by someone and not notice. Whether hiking, backpacking or horseback riding Skinny Fish is a great option in the Trappers Lake area. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.