Ute Creek Semiloop

Creede, Colorado

Ute Creek Semiloop

Ute Creek Semiloop Professional Guide

Detailed Trail Description from our Guidebook

"This semiloop provides access to vast meadows and wildflowers. It is a great way to link up with the Continental Divide Trail (CDT). Be sure to search along the river for American dippers and wandering garter snakes. Hikers must camp at least 200 feet from West Ute Lake; campfires are not permitted. In addition, livestock must be kept 200 feet away from the lake. Fording the Rio Grande can be dangerous until mid to late summer.

The trail crosses several streams and passes as you descend to Middle Ute Creek Trail 819, meeting it at 18.9 miles. From here return the way you came in, passing Black Lake and arriving at the trailhead at 25.9 miles."

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Ute Creek Semiloop Trail Trip Reports

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Pagosa Springs, CO
Pathfinder | 81 pts
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Start in water shoes as river is only 100 feet from TH. Low and easy to cross in late July. Lovely trail with several choices at splits depending on how big a loop you wish to make. We took Middle Ute to Ute Lake then to the West Trail and out. Plenty of water. Avoid filtering from Black Lake. Nice campsites before and particularly after the lake on a knob overlooking valley so filter in running water before it. Views were fantastic. Ute Lake very scenic. A downclimb was rewarded with a sweet little campsite near the pica inhabitated rocks. Horse group(s) had left quite a mess at the larger, more obvious site. Followed trail around to Twin Lakes and West Ute Lake where sites are plentiful. Had some weather while exposed which was a bit hairy but we persevered and all was fine. Best to be prepared for winds and some light hail and rain at any time in the mountains. Highly recommend this outing as you get to see the Pyramid, the Window, the Grenadiers, and more as big vistas are plentiful.
Denver, CO
Adventurer | 292 pts
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I really enjoyed this trip even though we couldn't complete it. Summer of '05 was just after a particularly snowy winter down there so we were unable to complete the loop. Because of this the initial stream crossing was treacherous, borderline irresponsible. However, that did get us solitude. We didn't see more than 2 other groups of people the rest of the Fourth of July Weekend.

We spent the first night at Black Lake. This lake appears to be sourced from ground water. This made for a stagnant lake with tons of mosquitos and NO FISH. I'd recommend hiking down another 1/2 mile in the meadow. There is plenty of creek tributaries down there for sources of water and I'm guessing the bigger ones have fish. Views of the Rio Grand Pyramid and the "Window" are also possible down here.

Day 2 was where the snow became an issue. We had intended on making it all the way to middle Ute lake, via the La Garita trail, but the snow up to West Ute Lake was terrible. It made the trail invisible, and the last 1/2 to 1 mile up to West Ute Lake a long slog. We spent the night at West Ute lake (here's a sunrise photo I took the next morning:

Day 3 we hiked to the top of the ridge between West Ute Lake and Middle Ute lake. The snow looked just as bad in the other drainages and rather than risk the trip, we headed out the way we came in.

Wildlife was awesome. We saw lots of elk... probably a herd of over 100 in the meadow heading towards Mt. Nebo. We camped in this meadow on night 3 and had a long 11+ mile hike out on Day 4. I highly recommend this trip but check to see about snow fall from the previous winter. You may need to put your trip off until late July.

Trail Information

Nearby City
3,000 feet
Elevation Gain
Trail Type
Skill Level
3-4 days
Additional Use
Views, Wildflowers
Rio Grande National Forest, Divide Ranger District, Creede; (719) 658-2556
Local Contacts
USGS Finger Mesa and Rio Grande Pyramid; Trails Illustrated Weminuche Wilderness; DeLorme 3D TopoQuad CD-ROM; Maptech Terrain Navigator CD-ROM
Local Maps