Deer Creek Trail

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Deer Creek Trail lies along the Continental Divide of the Americas, part of the Rocky Mountains in the U.S. state of Colorado. It is located in the White River National Forest, Summit County. Deer Creek Trail is south of Colorado Highway 6, east of Keystone Resort and near Montezuma.

Wildlife in the area includes mountain goat, pika, cougar or mountain lion, mule deer, elk, marmot, coyote, ptarmigan, American red squirrel, and gray jay or Canada jay. Wildflowers that bloom in the tundra area on the Continental Divide of the Americas include moss campion (Silene acaulis), alpine forget-me-not (Myosotis alpestris), sky pilot (Polemonium viscosum), sea pink, old-man-of-the-mountain (Rydbergia grandiflora), and mountain gentian (Gentiana). In the Deer Creek Valley, below the tree-line, the blooms of monkshood or wolfsbane, blue columbine, fireweed, and paintbrush (Castilleja) can be found.

The Deer Creek valley is an open willow-filled meadow surrounded by lodge pole pines and the barren rock face of Glacier Mountain along the western slope. From the base at 10,500 feet, the trail rises to about 12,200 feet at the junction with the Radical Hill Jeep Trail to the east and the Middle Fork Road to the Swan River heading west. Saints John Road crosses Glacier Mountain to the northwest, with the Gore Range forming the distant horizon.

Deer Creek Trail ascends east to the spine of Teller Mountain at 12,615 feet, joining the Continental Divide Trail. Park County lies to the south along the North Fork of the South Platte River. Red Cone, 12,801 feet, stands to the east. Webster Pass Road descends from 12,100 feet into mining ruins within Handcart Gulch, immediately west of Red Cone. The twin peaks of Grays and Torreys form the northern line of the Continental Divide at the edge of Clear Creek County.

The surrounding area is pocked with abandoned silver and gold mines from the nineteenth century. Toxins continue to poison the Snake River below Deer Creek, making portions of the stream uninhabitable by trout. The abandoned Pennsylvania Mine is being studied by the U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Deer Creek provides essential flows of pure water to dilute existing mine pollutants.

The Montezuma Loop Trail is a jeep road and mountain bike trail that encircles the Deer Creek Trail. The multi-use trail follows Webster Pass Road southeast from Montezuma Road. Montezuma Loop Trail passes beside the Continental Divide Trail and Deer Creek Trail. Then, the Montezuma Loop Trail descends north on Saints John Road to Montezuma, north of the Deer Creek Trail parking area. Deer Creek Trail is described in Greatest Hikes in Central Colorado: Summit and Eagle Counties, a hiking guide by Kim Fenske.

 

Deer Creek Trail #568

The Deer Creek Trail #568 begins at the end of Deer Creek Road, FSR #582 off of West Brush Creek Road, FSR #738.2A and ends at Forest Service Road #956 about half a mile from Gothic Road, County Road 317.  This trail faces south, southwest and is at a relatively moderate elevation, so it opens earlier in the spring.  At the end of Deer Creek Road, which can be pretty rough, the Deer Creek Trail is very distinct and easy to follow.  There are a couple of creek crossing before the trail begins a steady steep climb.  At the top the views of the upper East River valley and the back of Crested Butte Mountain are spectacular.  Continue along the flanks of Whiterock Mountain where there are several descents and ascents.  There are great views of Gothic Mountain in the open meadows.  Near the end of the trail it veers left to avoid private property and is well signed.  It comes to an end at a double track which will take you back to the Gothic Road.

Open Season: May – October
Usage: Medium
Best Season: Summer
Restrictions: Open to Hiking, Horseback, and Mountain Bike
Closest Towns: Crested Butte, CO

Directions:

Brush Creek Access:
From Crested Butte, travel south on Highway 135 for approximately 1.75 miles to the intersection with the Brush Creek Road, CR 738.  Follow CR 738 for approximately 5.5 miles to a “Y” in the road.  Stay to the left and travel on FSR #738.2A for less than a quarter mile to its intersection with Deer Creek Road, FSR #582.  Follow FSR #582 for approximately a quarter mile to the end of the road.

Gothic Road Access:
From Crested Butte, travel north on Gothic Road, County Road 317, for approximately 7 miles to the intersection with Forest Service Road #956 which is a rough two track.  Follow FSR #956 for approximately 1.5 miles to the end of the road.

Parking:

Brush Creek Access:  T. 14S., R. 86W., Section 21.  U.S.G.S. Map: Gothic.  Elevation: 9,834 feet.   Latitude: 38.916.  Longitude:  -106.892.

Gothic Road Access:  T. 13S., R. 86W., Sectioon 11.  U.S.G.S. Map: Gothic.  Elevation: 9,410 feet.  Latitude: 38.942.  Longitude: -106.971.

Deer Creek Trail #223

The Deer Creek Trail #223 begins at an intersection with the Lou Creek Trail #222 and ends at Forest Service Road #481. This trail gradually descends into and crosses a drainage in approximately 1.25 miles. It climbs out of the drainage and continues to climb to where it crosses the North Fork of Lou Creek at approximately 2.2 miles.  After passing through a saddle at approximately 2.6 miles, it levels off and travels along the hillside until approximately 4.6 miles where it descend down a draw to intersect Forest Service Road #481. This road is gated at the forest boundary, so it is necessary to return the way you came. During hunting season this trail is very popular.

Open Season: July – September
Usage: Light-Medium
Best Season: Summer
Busiest Season: Summer
Restrictions: Open to Hiking and Horseback.
Closest Towns: Cimarron, CO

Directions:

From Montrose:
Travel east on Hwy 50 for approximately 21 miles to the intersection with County Road 858, Big Cimarron Road. Turn right onto CR 858, which becomes Forest Service Road #858 at the National Forest boundary, and continue south for approximately 17.6 miles to the intersection with FSR #858.3I. Turn right onto FSR 858.3I and continue to the Silver Jack Overlook, about 0.5 miles, to where the Cowboy Lake Trail #244 begins. Follow the Cowboy Lake Trail for approximately 0.5 miles to an intersection with the Lou Creek Trail. Stay to the right on the Lou Creek Trail for approximately 4.9 miles, over Lou Creek Pass to the intersection with the Deer Creek Trail.

Parking:
T. 46 N.; R. 6 W.; Section 17. U.S.G.S. Map: Courthouse Mountain. Elevation: 8,895 feet. Latitude: N38.323, Longitude: W-107.541.

Horse Camping

No. of Sites  60 single site(s)

Stats

  • Trail Measurement: 5.5 and 7.6 Miles
  • Compass Latitude: 381443N
  • Compass Longitude: 1073630W
  • Numeric Latitude: 38.2452684
  • Numeric Longitude: -107.6083926
  • Elevation in Meters: 2,868 to 3,281
  • Elevation in Feet: 9,410 to 10,674

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References

  • Trail Location
  • Trail Measurement
    5.5 and 7.6 Miles
  • Compass Latitude
    381443N
  • Compass Longitude
    1073630W
  • Numeric Latitude
    38.2452684
  • Numeric Longitude
    -107.6083926
  • Elevation in Feet
    9,410 to 10,674
  • Elevation in Meters
    2,868 to 3,281
  • Trail Images
    • Trail Maps
      • Trail GPS Files
        • Trail Weather

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