[cdt-l] Creede Cutoff Report (for SBers)

Karl L. Luce k_luce at comcast.net
Fri Sep 15 20:53:31 CDT 2006

Hi All,


I know it is around that time in the SB CDT thru-hiking season when some of
you will be taking the Creede cutoff.  Since I just did that section of
trail as part of my CDT loop through La Garita, Weminuche, and environs, you
might find this information of interest.  I will list it in southbound order
(starting from San Luis Pass), even though I hiked it in the other


Two things to note between San Luis Pass and Creede: (a) The '97 TI map for
La Garita & Cochetopa Hills shows the Creede Trail taking the eastern side
of the West Willow Creek down to Equity Mine but it really goes half-way
down and then takes a 90-degree right turn (west) and goes down to cross the
creek and a tributary to the western side to join the jeep road coming down
from the hill.  It crosses back over to the eastern side via the jeep road.
(b) There is an unofficial set of drive-in campsites on the right-hand
(west) side of the road, about a mile (?) after Equity Mine, before the
well-graded road crosses from the western to the eastern side of the creek
(you have crossed the main creek 3 times since the pass).  A well-documented
ten miles to town from the pass.


More info for the southern leg (unfortunately, I am working off the '89
version of Weminuche Wilderness TI map, so my apologies if this info has
already been corrected):


It takes about 3 miles from center of Creede to get to the Deep Creek
trailhead, which is not where it is shown on the '97 LG&CH map.  One has to,
after crossing the Rio Grande, either keep marching south and take the
hairpin turn to the right up the bluff overlooking the Rio Grande (probably
shorter route) or take a right (west) and a left hairpin turn to get to the
same spot.  Yesterday, there was a North Face dome-like tent set up across
the field, just inside the woods, away from the bluff, where the actual
trailhead is.  Don't believe the sign.  It says it is 9 miles from the TH to
Seven Parks (the end of the climb out of the Rio Grande valley) but I think
it is between 6-7 miles (based on personal speed experiences and the 2.75
hours it took to come down).  While you climb away from the TH, wave hello
to the private landowner (Deep Creek Ranch) down below on your left that has
forced this trail change.


A little more than halfway up those "nine" miles, there is a fine
established campsite.  (There are other spots that would work as campsites
but this is the most obvious and popular spot.)  It appears you are going
straight up the valley but in reality you are looking up a tributary valley.
You take an immediate 90-degree left turn (almost east) through some
overgrown grasses and the campsite is just ahead on your right with a yellow
stock driveway boundary sign on a tree planted in the middle.


You are about 2 miles of reaching Seven Parks when the going gets real
steep.  There will be some let up, but not much.  About a half-mile (perhaps
more?) before reaching the top, there is a medium-sized wet meadow
(triangular form) that allows the legs some relief.  One could probably make
a campsite here as well on the edge.  Important to note that this is the
last reliable water near the route (the creek is a tiny trickle to your
right upon entering the meadowy area) until beyond the North Lime trailhead.
Get water here!


Once at Seven Parks, check out the water-level checking device down on your
left side, not far after entering the parks!


My map shows Trail 806 as being separate from the Lime Creek Road but they
are the same for about a half-mile while leaving the parks.  Then 806
branches off to the left (east) to climb away from the road.  (Coming the
other way, I did go up 851 a short way in an attempt to find the other end
but failed.  Must be the two join further up the saddle than where my map
shows.  I took the road the whole way, unintentionally herding along a
feeding bull; there were more cows near the parks.)  According to a road
sign, it is 4 miles from North Lime TH to the Seven Parks area and (my
guess) a mile less by using the trail.


North Lime TH is well-situated and has some drive-in campsites.  I stayed
there and no-one bothered me (mid-week).  There is some light traffic.  The
big plus is the outhouse (my only one of the trip!).  The big minus is no
convenient water.  I went down to what looked to be the closest water in a
valley to the west.  Cut through the trees to the road and take a right
(north) to the hairpin turn.  A rough road heads north from the turn and at
west-northwest a pack trail cuts down through the woods.  Take this down to
the meadow (you can tell many cattle fed here by the mudpies) to the marshy
area.  I filtered the water; there is a certain skank smell (from the
cattle, I suppose).  If you don't have much water and intend on going up
Fisher Mountain from North Lime TH, definitely get some here.  About a
half-mile off the route.  Felt like Peters Mountain Shelter all over again!


If the weather is good and you have the time and energy, definitely take the
Fisher Mountain (still 806) route.  A very magical ridge, highly
recommended!  (To find the 806 continuation, continue up the road with the
orange "log trucks" sign, to the right of the parking area and 807 TH.)
Otherwise, the two other obvious ways to go would be by first going down
Roaring Fork (807) and then heading south via Fisher Creek Trail (826) or
Goose Creek Trail (827), where water should not be an issue.  Less (?) than
a mile into 806 from North Lime, the trail flattens and the substantial
fallen wood clearing operation will cause some confusion, just continue
southward in general without leaving the ridge.  The pack trail is fairly
wide and can be found on the other side.  (I startled a big buck here who
was lying low, 30 yards away!)


There is a good alternate escape route (obvious on the map) to get off the
main ridge of Fisher, even after committing to 806 past North Lime.  From
the looks of it, there is definite water on the bad-weather route on the
west side of Fisher and most likely some campsites.  But the ridgeline is
fabulous so go for it if the conditions are right!  You can find the
alternate route by first breaking tree-line on the south side of a spur
ridge you've been climbing for a while and leveling out on the spur before
making the final climb around the cliff to your left.  You will see a path
break to your right, almost backwards, and then curl around to the north
side of that spur ridge, eventually heading westward.  Follow the cairns on
that side for the alternate route.


Use your compass, map, the open park areas, and the sometimes infrequent
posts and cairns to navigate down the other side of Fisher.  (A prominent
post at the north edge of the bluff indicates where the alternate route
joins in.)  Might be some good campsites in the park basin after the descent
of Fisher, before the little park hump climb, water lower in that basin to
the east.  SBers should have an easier time (than I did) in finding where
the trail continues over the hump past the park basin (the one with the very
tall post) and into the trees, using the stock driveway signs.  Eventually,
get to the next park where the Ivy Creek trail joins in from the right
(west), a very obvious trail on the south side of that park.  There, a sign
indicates it is 4 miles north to Fisher Mountain and 3 miles south to Goose


Goose Pond is loverly and has a lot to offer for campsites, away from the
lakeshore.  The trail up Fisher Creek (somehow labeled with Ivy Creek trail
post/sign) joins this route at the southern end of the tarn.  (BTW: The
trail above Goose Pond shows up incorrectly on the '89 TI map.  It really
ascends further west, away from the creek, from where the map shows it to
be.)  Upper Goose Pond has no shelter to speak of and flat, level spots will
be a challenge.  Also the last water before ascending to South River Peak.
This route will deliver thee to the CDT.


I estimate 3 miles from North Lime TH to Fisher Mountain and 3 miles from
Goose Pond to the CDT.  Add this to the mileages on the sign (this sign I
tend to believe) and you have 13 miles from CDT to North Lime.  Double that
(approximately) for the distance from Creede to the CDT. 


Sorry for the length, it is so recent in my memory (just yesterday!).  Hope
this helps as the Creede cutoff season approaches.  Stay dry and warm (if
you can)!


Karl Luce

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