Off-Roading on Deer Creek TrailOctober 28th, 2010 by admin
Trail: Deer Creek, Radical Hill Flats, & Middle Fork of the Swan located in Summit County, Colorado
Trail Leaders: Tom & Traci McCready in a 1990 Jeep Comanche with 6.5 inch lift and 33×12.50×15 Goodyear MTRszs
Background on trail leaders;
Tom has been the president of South Park 4×4 Club for the past 8 years and is an ASE Master Mechanic. Traci is the secretary and treasurer of South Park as well as a retired firefighter and hunting & fishing guide. Tom & Traci have over 20 years of off road experience each.
There is a network of trails in this area. On this day, we chose to run up Deer Creek (rated moderate) outside of Montezuma, Colorado. Deer Creek is a narrow winding road with switchbacks and rocky areas as you climb. There are many areas where the wildflowers dot the area with so much color it can hurt one’s eyes (not really, but it sure is beautiful!).
After we broke above the tree line (11,500 ft), we took the side road to the top of Radical Hill (rated difficult). Once you get out of the trees, all of the trails are over 12,000 feet in elevation. Snow can linger here well into July and August, and freak snowstorms can pop up ANY time of year. We were snowed out on top of this trail on July 30th of 2009. Once you’re at the top, on a clear day you can see over 50 miles in some directions. The views cannot be beat from any of these trails. During late July and August you have the chance to view the small herds of mountain goats that call this high country home. On our trip, we were treated to several small bands with babies (kids) in them near the trail. Use caution when around these animals as they can be unpredictable and very protective of their young.
After watching the goats for a bit and taking in the views, we returned to the Deer Creek trail and continued to the end for lunch, which we had on top of a no name peak at 13,000 ft. We turned around after lunch to the intersection of the Middle Fork of the Swan trail. Middle Fork of the Swan trail is moderately rated. There are a few tippy spots and rocky areas requiring slow going and higher clearance, and the start of the decent is steep. These trails get lots of use, so be cautious when getting into blind areas as there is a limited amount of areas for pulling over to pass other vehicles on the trail.
The number of trails in this area can cause some confusion, so make sure you have a good map and a well-built rig as you can get into areas that go from the easy stock rig trail to something requiring experience, high clearance, and lockers in some cases. If you want to run trails in this area, watch the weather; lightening can strike at anytime if the skies are cloudy and gray, even if you haven’t heard thunder. Lightening is the #1 killer in the Colorado high country, and when up above the tree line YOU are the tallest thing in the area. Pack clothing for all types of weather and bring PLENTY of WATER as that will help with any effects you feel from the altitude.