South Fork

Round Trip Distance: 4-32 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 7610 - 7750 feet
Cellphone: 0 bars
Time: 2 hrs. 30 mins.
Trailhead: South Fork Campground
Fee: none - camping $20/night
Attractions: Scenic forest/river

The South Fork trail is located east of Meeker, Colorado in the Flat Tops Wilderness Area of the White River National Forest. Beginning at the South Fork Campground the trail travels up the South Fork of the White River for 16 miles. At the 5 mile point it passes the Lost Solar Creek trail and at the 7 mile point it passes the Park Creek trail. Six miles past that it passes Budges Resort and then passes through an area known as The Meadows where at roughly the 16 mile point it intersects with the Nichols trail. Some accounts have the trail ending at this point while others have it continuing for another 7.2 miles and ending at the Trappers Lake trail.

To get to the trailhead from Meeker drive east on Highway 13 for 1 mile and turn right onto County Road 8. Continue for another 18 miles and turn right onto County Road 10.

Follow CR #10 for a couple of miles paying attention to the signs for the South Fork Campground as it makes a sharp right hand turn before coming to the sign in this photo where it is another 10 miles to the campground. The road is well maintained and suitable for all types of vehicles. If you enter the South Fork Campground into your driving app have it save the directions for offline use as you will not have a cellphone signal for much of the drive.

The campground has 18 non-reservable sites that are mostly suited for tents and small RVs. Most of the land leading to the campground along CR #10 is private property so if you don't find a site available at the campground you might have to drive all the way back out to CR #8 and search else where. We actually parked our trailer off of CR #8 on the hill east of Lake Avery (Big Beaver Reservoir), where there are quite a few sites that can accommodate RVs of all sizes, and drove to the South Fork trailhead from there.

A couple hundred feet from the parking area there is a fork where the Spring Cave trail branches off on the right and crosses the river.

The easy to follow South Fork trail continues up the canyon on the east side of the river.

Fishermen will find multiple places along the trail where they can access the water.

The river runs fast and furious for the most part but there is one stretch that flattens out and becomes much calmer.

About a mile and a half from the campground the trail climbs higher up along the side of the mountain where it becomes a bit rockier. Through here it is probably as much as 100 feet or more down to the river in places.

For this post we followed the trail for 2 miles to a stretch of the river that we called the 'Cascades'.

At this point the channel of the river was narrower and the current was a roaring rage. Fall into the water here and you would be in for one heck of a swim.

We hiked about as far up the South Fork trail as a day hiker staying at the campground would probably go before turning around. There are multiple loops that backpackers could take ranging from 25 miles to 33 miles. For day hikers the first mile and a half of the trail is very easy and well suited for children of all ages provided you take care around the fast moving water. We would like to commend the Forest Service for the immaculate condition in which we found the restroom. Very nice! There were a few mosquitoes around the campground but we didn't notice them much once we began hiking. We never used any spray but we had it with us none the less. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.