Elk Creek Trailhead - Trail # 731

Area Status: Open

The Elk Creek trail is 15.0 miles long. It begins at Forest Road 128 and ends at Forest Trail 813.

Elk Creek provides excellent opportunities for trout fishing along its entire length. The trail follows Elk Creek from its confluence with the Conejos River to its upper reaches and passes through a variety of terrain including deep canyons and wide meadowed valleys. The trail is well traveled by fishermen, hikers and horse packers and is easy to follow. Suitable camping sites are dispersed along the valley. Water from Elk Creek can be filtered for drinking. Parking is availabe at the Trailhead

The trail joins the Continental Divide Scenic Trail #813. Other trails which can be reached via the El Creek Trail are the Notch Trail #729 and the Rough Creek Trail #727.

The trail is open for the following uses: Horseback riding, hiking, backpacking, cross country skiing and snow shoeing.  Outside the wilderness, the trail is open to mountain biking.

At a Glance

Area Amenities: Toilets, Drinking water, Parking
Open Season: May
Usage: Medium
Closest Towns: Antonito
Water: Yes at Elk Creek Campground
Restroom: Yes at the campground
Information Center: The trail begins by climbing high above Elk Creek where the valley narrows overlooking the boulder-strewn stream. The trail then follows the valley, with Elk Creek meandering slowly through the wide, flat First, Second and Third Meadows. Steep cliffs of volcanic rock loom above the valley floor and are intermittently broken by side canyons. At the head of Elk Creek Canyon, the trail climbs the steep southern slope to Dipping Lakes, which sit on the ridge dividing the Elk Creek and Chama River drainages. The trail joins the Continental Divide Scenic Trail #813 directly above Dipping Lakes.

General Information


From Antonito travel west on highway 17 to Elk Creek Campground, about 23 miles. Just after entering Elk Creek CG cross the bridge and take the trail leading south along the bank of Elk Creek.

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information


Mountain Biking

From the trail head to the South San Juan Wilderness boundary only.

Difficulty Level: Moderate

Dispersed Camping

Difficulty Level: Moderate

River and Stream Fishing

Trout in Elk Creek and Conejos River.

Difficulty Level: Moderate

Day Hiking

Difficulty Level: Moderate


Difficulty Level: Moderate

Horse Camping

Horse Riding

Difficulty Level: Moderate

XC Skiing/Snowshoeing

Difficulty Level: Moderate


Toilets: at Elk Creek campground
Parking: at the trailhead
Drinking water: at Elk Creek campground

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities

Current Conditions


  Area/Length : 
15.0 miles

  Latitude : 

  Longitude : 

  Elevation : 
8800 - 11750