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White River Traverse

Highlights

  • Convenience of meeting in Denver
  • First night/dinner at a historic hotel
  • Wonderful rejuvenating solitude
  • A traverse of the South Fork of the White River
  • High plateaus, alpine tundra, glacier-carved lakes, meadows & more
  • Abundant wildlife habitat

Description

This four-day backpack traverses the impressive South Fork of the White River as it flows west through the Flat Tops Wilderness to its confluence with the Green River many miles downstream. We’ll explore three major drainage systems on this hike, through verdant meadows, along the massive Flat Tops Plateau, camping by high mountain lakes and streams as we make our way on a broad loop hike to the trip’s end at our starting point! If you like to fish, you’ll be in your element here, as native Cutthroat, Browns, Brook, and Rainbow are plentiful.
Wildlife also abounds in these rich valleys and high open meadows: we have a great chance for sightings of elk, deer, beaver, a variety of raptors and forest birds, to name but a few. We’ll eat well, with hearty meals prepared by your guide and plentiful snacks for trailside energy.

This tour includes a moderate mountain ascent, and side trips to multiple remote lakes as well - Come join us! Give us a call at 800-715-HIKE (4453) to learn more and make your reservation today!
Click here to have a detailed PDF information packet emailed to you, or request a reservation today. You can also call us at 800-715-HIKE.

 

Photos of the Flat Tops

Thanks to Keith Darnell for Photos 2, 3, and 5-8

Trip Itinerary

Day 1

Shuttle to Meeker, CO: 4 hours
Accommodations: The historic Meeker Hotel


We will meet at Union Station in downtown Denver, Colorado at 1:00 PM (your guide will be in contact approximately 10 days before the trip to coordinate the rendezvous). Union Station is centrally located in downtown Denver, has light rail to and from the airport, provides nearby lodging and multiple dining options. From Denver we will shuttle across the Rocky Mountains to the small, historic town of Meeker, Colorado, which sits below the Flat Tops. We will check into our rooms (included) at the historic Meeker Hotel and Cafe. Staying at the Meeker Hotel is a wonderful pre-trip experience - it was originally established in the 1880's for miners and cattle ranchers, and has accumulated fascinating stories in the century-plus since, including a murder over a poker game in the 1890's.

We will enjoy a classic "Old West" meal in Meeker tonight, over which we'll discuss the specifics of our upcoming adventure. Eventually we'll turn in for a good night's sleep to energize us for our hike.


Day 2

Shuttle to the trailhead: 30 minutes
Hiking Mileage: 7.9 miles
Elevation Gain: 2200 feet


After a tasty breakfast we'll make our way on an early shuttle to our trailhead. From the South Fork trailhead at 7,594 feet we hike 5.9 miles to the river’s confluence with Park Creek. Our hike takes us through a rich variety of terrain and landscapes - forests, large meadows, and lots of rushing water as we make our creekside ascent toward the Plateau.

After a satisfying lunch en route, we turn northeast and ascend along Park Creek another 2 miles to our stream side camp along Park Creek at about 9,800 feet, where a fine dinner awaits and we settle in to the sound of the creek nearby.


Day 3

Hiking Mileage: 7 miles
Elevation Gain: 1625 feet


On day two we’ll rise to breakfast, break camp, and continue upstream 3.2 miles to the stunning Flat Tops Plateau and the Nichols Creek trail junction. We’ll then continue north along the plateau with views in all directions, headed for Horseshoe Lake at 10,696 feet.

We’ll have a good lunch, grab day packs, and head for Timber Mountain, an easy and beautiful climb above tree line to 11,425 feet. We’ll scout for wildlife, have a well-earned snack, and make our way back to camp for relaxation, perhaps some fishing, and finally dinner and conversation as we plan for tomorrow.


Day 4

Hiking Mileage: 6.7 miles
Elevation Loss: 1950 feet


After a filling breakfast by Horseshoe Lake we’ll break camp, then travel north and west along Lost Solar Creek, keeping alert for the many elk that frequent this section of the wilderness. We’ll hike, have lunch, and explore as we descend gently along the forested creek through the day. Views of the forest below us extend and expand west into the White River valley.

As evening descends we’ll set our final camp along Lost Solar Creek at about 8700 feet, settle in for a sumptuous dinner, and call it a day!


Day 5

Hiking Mileage: 5.6 miles
Elevation Loss: 1106 feet
Shuttle to Denver: 4 hours


We’ll enjoy a last campsite breakfast this morning, break camp and continue our descent down Lost Solar Creek to its confluence with the South Fork of the White River, where we’ll continue 4.4 miles downstream to the South Fork Trailhead. As we walk we’ll have another excellent opportunity to see a range of wildlife in the forest, meadow, and creekside ecosystems we pass.

We’ll have a good lunch at trail’s end, then begin our shuttle to Denver, where we’ll have you back at our staging area generally by 7pm.


Please Note: We always do everything in our power to follow the set itinerary, however it can change occasionally based on temporary park restrictions, campsite availability, weather, road closures, guest ability/injury, and natural events like fires and flooding.

Trip Details

What's Included

  • Pick up in Denver with a night of historic lodging and dinner "Old West" style in Meeker, Colorado
  • Top-of-the-line tent, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, and technical backpack
  • Use of trekking poles
  • All meals are included from breakfast the first day through lunch on the last day
  • A professional, knowledgeable, certified Colorado hiking guide
  • Roundtrip transportation from Denver, Colorado to the trailhead and back
  • Entrance fees and public lands permits
  • Emergency equipment including a company-issued first-aid kit and satellite phone
  • You will receive a Lifetime Hiking Membership entitling you, your spouse and kids to a lifetime discount of 10% off any Wildland Trekking hiking trip after your first one!

What's Not Included

  • Clothes, raingear, and footwear
  • Sunscreen, toiletries and personal items
  • Water bottles and a headlamp or flashlight
  • Guide gratuity (industry recommendation is 10-20% of trip cost)
See the Packing Lists page for more information.


Meals: What To Expect

All of our hiking and backpacking tours include a diversity of tasty meals packed full of critical carbohydrates, proteins and fats. We carry foods that travel well in the backcountry – rice, pastas, lentils, beans, couscous, packaged meats, nuts, breads, oatmeal, granola, and more.

For optimal taste and energy, we supplement all our meals with spices, herbs, oils, cheeses, butter, sugar, and fruits and vegetables (fresh and dried). In addition, we provide you with with an assortment of trail mix, snacks, and dried fruits to eat at your own discretion.

We regularly accommodate vegan, vegetarian, kosher and non-gluten diets and will make adjustments for food allergies. These and other special dietary requests may require an additional fee.


Gear We Provide

We provide all group gear which includes the following:
  • Deuter or Osprey backpacks
  • Sierra Designs, Kelty or Big Agnes tents
  • Sierra Designs, Kelty, Big Agnes and Mountain Hardware sleeping bags
  • Thermarest or Big Agnes sleeping pads
  • Leki or Black Diamond trekking poles
  • Cooking stoves and cookware
  • Company-issued first-aid kit
  • Satellite phone


What Gear To Bring

We ask that you supply a couple of gear items on your hiking tour. These items are two 1-liter water bottles per person and either a headlamp or flashlight per person. Basic items like sunscreen, bug repellent, lip balm, and toiletries are also important. All of these items are available online at Wildland Trekking Outfitters.


What Clothes to Bring

Please refer to the trip packet for a recommended clothing list (we email you a detailed trip packet when you inquire and when you register). All trips require a sturdy pair of hiking shoes or hiking boots (reliable brands include Montrail, Lowa, Merrell, Vasque, and Salomon), rain gear, and non-cotton clothing layers. A minimum of three pairs of wool or synthetic hiking socks are also required. All of these items are available online at Wildland Trekking Outfitters.

NOTE: See the Packing Lists page for more detailed information on what clothes and gear to bring on your hiking tour. The trip packet you receive when you contact us will have the most accurate clothing and gear list for the tour you're interested in.

Trip Logistics

How do I Register?

Ready to hike? Simply click here and complete the form to get the ball rolling. Our adventure consultants will confirm availability, and if you're ready to register we'll email you a link to a registration profile. You'll have 48 hours to complete your profile (and that of any dependents) and pay the deposit ($500).

Feel free to call us for more info - we're here 7 days a week!


Where Do We Meet?

You will meet your guide and group at Union Station in downtown Denver, Colorado on Day 1, where we will shuttle to the town of Meeker, Colorado. (Union Station is centrally located in downtown Denver, has light rail to and from the airport, and provides nearby lodging and multiple dining options.) The first night's lodging at a historic lodge and "Old West" style dinner are includedin Meeker. It is also possible to rendezvous in Meeker, if that is more convenient for you.

Check out our Travel Resources page for information on flights, shuttles, lodging and more.


Start/End Times

Your trip officially starts at 1PM on Day 1 with pick up in Denver and shuttle to Meeker, Colorado. Your guide will inform you of the first hiking day's departure time at the orientation meeting on Day 1. Generally, you can expect it to be between 5 and 8 am, although the exact time will depend on current weather and road conditions. We will drop you off in Denver on the final day normally before 7 PM (this time is not guaranteed, as a variety of circumstances can influence our exact return time).


Safety Considerations

Your safety is our top priority. Our hiking tours are led by professional hiking guides, all of whom are wilderness-certified first responders or EMT's, each with years of guiding and wilderness experience. We've developed comprehensive risk management protocols that our guides adhere to in case of an emergency, and most tours carry a satellite phone. If you have any further questions about safety, please contact us at 1-800-715-HIKE (4453) for more information.


Guides

Your tour will be led by a trained, experienced professional with a solid guiding background, years of personal wilderness and hiking experience, medical certifications, and a passion for leading people into breathtaking landscapes. Check out our Meet Our Team page for staff bios.


Group Size and Age Restrictions

The standard group size on Flat Tops backpacking trips is 5 guests and 1 guide, with a maximum group size of 8 guests and 2 guides. If you have more questions about group size, please give us a call at 800-715-HIKE (4453) and we'll answer all your questions.

Age restrictions are as follows:
  • 12 and older to join scheduled tours (mixed groups)
  • 10 and older to join private tours, with final approval on a case by case basis
  • specific logistical requirements (such as porter or stock assist) determined on a case by case basis


Weather in the Colorado Rockies

Being a high mountain environment, the Rocky Mountains are prone to sudden temperature and weather shifts. This is an exciting aspect of being in Colorado's high country. On trips in June, snow is a slight possibility, and the rest of the summer rain is always a possibility on your trip. To be fully prepared, please follow the recommended clothing list closely (this list comes as part of your trip packet when you register). See below for average summer temperatures:
     
Average Temperatures (Fahrenheit)
     
 
Month
High / Low
 
June
71°
48°
 
July
79°
55°
 
August
78°
53°
 
September
69°
45°