- Southwest Colorado, near Creede
- 18.5 mile loop
- 9 to 11 hours
- Trailhead Elevation:
- 10800 feet
- Elevation Change:
- 1900 feet
- Summer - Fall
The hiking trail in this area is moderate in difficulty, with meadows, streams, and occasional stands of trees. Two loops can be taken: the "inner” loop of roughly 12.3 miles, or the "outer” loop of about 22.4 miles. Traveling clockwise on the loop from Black Lake along the Middle Ute Creek Trail, you descend through meadows at a moderate to steep grade. You will cross several creeks and reach the East Ute Creek Trail junction at .9 miles.
Inner Loop: At the junction with the East Ute Creek Trail, continue straight on the Middle Ute Creek Trail, passing the turnoff for Ute Lake and on to Middle Ute Lake at mile 3. The Continental Divide Trail (CDT) junction is at mile 5.2, and the trail will climb down rocky slopes south of West Ute Lake. The CDT and West Ute Creek Trail junction is at mile 8.2, and the Middle Ute Creek and West Ute Creek Trail junction at 12.6.
Outer Loop: This loop travels at higher elevations for a longer stretch on the CDT, passing both Ute Lake and Twin Lakes. The East Ute Creek Trail connects to the CDT at mile 10.2, then on the CDT for another 3.5 miles to Ute Lake, and on to Twin Lakes at mile 15. Between Middle Ute and Twin Lakes, the trail is not well defined, with heavy willow growth and boggy areas. From Twin Lakes, continue on the CDT 3.5 miles to Middle Ute Lake and .3 miles past the lake to the Middle Ute Creek Trail junction. It is 3.6 miles farther to the Middle Ute Creek and West Ute Creek Trail junction and back to Black Lake.
Ute Creek is a large headwater of the Rio Grande, and a fine trout stream. Most of the trail along Ute Creek provides meadow fly-fishing for small rainbows, brook trout, and cutthroats. All of the lakes in this area have been rated fair for cutthroat and rainbow. Please check the fishing regulations regarding limits, allowable lures, and restrictions on certain lakes, rivers, etc.
From Creede, drive southwest on Colorado 149 for 19 miles and turn left on Rio Grande Reservoir Road, FDR 520. Continue on this road for 17 miles until you reach the Ute Creek Trailhead. Black Lake is at the junction with the Ute Creek Loop, 6.5 miles up the trail from the Ute Creek trailhead.
2) Can be reached by either the Vallecito Creek Trail (see its description) or the Pine River Trail to Flint Creek Trail (see these descriptions). The trail north to the Continental Divide Trail is between Flint Lakes and Rock Lake.