St. Joe River Trail #48


This 20.8 mile single track mainline trail parallels the St. Joe Wild and Scenic River from Spruce Tree Campground to the mouth of Heller Creek. To complement the outstanding natural beauty and recreational opportunities along the St. Joe River Trail, there are several points of historic interest to be discovered. At Scat Creek (2½ miles above Spruce Tree), there are the remains of an old garnet mine. At Halm Creek (4 miles above Spruce Tree), Joe Halm and a crew of 28 firefighters sheltered on a sandbar in the river as the great fire of 1910 raged over them. At Broken Leg Creek (10 miles above Spruce Tree), the remains of a 1912 Forest Service cabin can be found. There is also a commercial outfitter /guide resort located 5 miles upriver from Spruce Tree. For those looking for ecological treasures, few places in the forest rival the opportunities afforded in the "upper Joe."

Prime riverside campsites abound along the length of this trail, many of which lay beside outstanding fishing holes that receive relatively light use compared with the roaded Joe. In fact, the fishing in ‘the Joe’ is its very best way up this non-motorized trail between Broken Leg Creek and Heller Creek; largely due to its remoteness and light use. Those more interested in the mammal side of wildlife should likewise take to the mountains, creeks, lakes and meadows of the upper Joe. If patient and attentive, nearly every Rocky Mountain species can be found in this area including: whitetail/mule deer, elk, moose, bear, mountain goat, pine marten, fisher, cougar and wolf among others.

The upper Joe is a place where users can bask in the primordial movement and sound of things. Furthermore, with possible roundtrip backcountry excursions varying in mileage from 4 (to the first really nice campsite) to 50+, users have the opportunity to explore ecosystems ranging from dark moist cedar forests to barren wind-whipped craggy peaks and everything in between. If users are looking for a place to spend a weekend or a week, the Upper Joe ranks very high.

At a Glance

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  Elevation : 
3600 - 4800