Directions: From Denver take Hwy 285 south to Pine Junction. Turn left and head south down 126 Pine Valley Road (which becomes Deckers Road) through the towns of Pine and Buffalo Creek. Stay on 126 until you reach the Cheesman Canyon Trailhead and Parking Area. Just past the parking area turn right on Road 211 also called Wigwam Creek Road towards Cheesman Reservoir. Follow the signs for 3 miles to Cheesman Reservoir, the trailhead is at the end of the road, past the trailhead for Upper Cheesman Canyon. Road 211 is a narrow dirt road but in good weather it should be passable to most passenger cars, SUV or 4WD is preferred.
Cheesman Reservoir is located in the Hayman Fire Restoration Area, one of my favorite areas in the entire Front Range. Due to the enormous fire, many decades ago, the area has taken on an other-worldly and unique landscape. The reservoir is just east of the Lost Creek Wilderness and is surrounded by a stark contrast of burnt trees, new growth vegetation, and rocky mountains. The Goose Creek Arm Trail follows the shore of the northwest arm of the reservoir and is a stunning hike.
The hike itself is straight forward and not difficult. From the trailhead the trail follows the western lake shore past some nice picnic spots. The views across the reservoir are immediately impressibe with Thunder Butte rising to the east and jagged peaks to the south. The trail rolls over the hilly shoreline past large boulders and the wild rock formations that make this area so interesting.
Before long the trail turns to the west and begins to explore the arm of the reservoir. This is where the hike really gets good. The arm of the reservoir feels much more remote than the main portion. As the reservoir narrows the shoreline walls rise and you enter a canyon. In the distance you'll soon be able to see the top of Sheep Rock and the jagged spires of the Lost Creek Wilderness in the distance.
At this point, any other reservoir hike would start to feel tedious as you weave in and out of inlets with no end in sight. However, the terrain and backdrop of Cheesman Reservoir is so beautiful that you will welcome each turn and you'll find yourself compelled to continue on.
After 1.75 miles, you'll reach the end of the trail. There are signs prohibiting further access and the ruins of an old dam or spillway. Beyond, Goose Creek rushes and cascades into the reservoir. This spot is idyllic and well worth the effort to get there. You'll be temped to continue exploring the canyon, but please, resist the urge. Follow the trail back the same way you came.
This hike serves as a good introduction to the Hayman Fire Restoration Area. Although there are few official trails in this area, there are more treasures to be found. I suggest the Molly Gulch Trail or the Trail to the Big Rock Candy Mountain Viewpoint to get you started.
HIKES BY REGION
NATIONAL PARK HIKES
- BENT'S OLD FORT NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE
- BLACK CANYON OF THE GUNNISON NATIONAL PARK
- COLORADO NATIONAL MONUMENT
- CURECANTI NATIONAL RECREATION AREA
- DINOSAUR NATIONAL MONUMENT
- FLORISSANT FOSSIL BEDS NATIONAL MONUMENT
- MESA VERDE NATIONAL PARK
- ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK
- GREAT SAND DUNES NATIONAL PARK
- HOVENWEEP NATIONAL MONUMENT
- SAND CREEK MASSACRE NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE
- YUCCA HOUSE NATIONAL MONUMENT
- HIKES BY CATEGORY
- $UPPORT GHC
- INTERACTIVE MAP
Goose Creek Arm Trail
Hayman Fire Restoration Area
Pike National Forest / Cheesman Reservoir
Date Hiked: May 12, 2019
Distance: 3.4 mi (RT)
Elevation Gain: 300 ft
Elevation Min/Max: 6,831 to 6,895 ft
Trailhead Lat/Long: 39º 13' 15" N; 105º 16' 46" W
Managing Agency: Denver Water & U.S. Forest Service