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  • Writer's pictureAmy Hindman

Rock Creek Lake

Difficulty: Hard

Length: 7 miles RT

Elevation Gain: 2300 feet

Season: June/July-October (Snow melt varies from year to year. Ask around before you go to see if snow has melted before attempting this hike).

Location: Elkhorn Mountains

Notes: No services. Rough access road (4WD required). Lake is drawn down for irrigation and will be much lower in the fall.

Rock Creek Lake is a stunning lake in the Elkhorn Mountains with crystal clear water and jagged mountain peaks. I'd recommend this hike for ages 8+ as it is on the longer side and has some steep climbs.

The trail starts out by crossing the North Fork of Rock Creek. If the bridge is washed out, the creek is easy to wade across not far from the main trail.

After about 3/8 mile you will reach a 2nd creek crossing on a log bridge.

Just short of 1 mile into the hike you will reach some steep switch backs. This is by far the hardest part of the hike and was challenging going up and down. Thankfully this section is not that long and at 1.1 miles you will reach a viewpoint to Baker Valley, which is a nice place for a snack break.

About 2.5 miles into the hike you will reach the first of several meadows and beautiful views of the Elkhorn Mountains.

We saw lots of wildflowers along the trail in mid-July.

The trail continues across a couple more meadows before you reach the lake. It can be a bit muddy. The kids enjoyed trying the wild onions growing in the meadow.

You've arrived at Rock Creek Lake! There's room to camp here if you're backpacking and several logs to sit on while eating lunch.

We added on a bit more mileage by continuing on the trail to the right to a smaller, unnamed lake where the kids had great success with catch and release fishing.

Getting there: Take Rock Creek Road (it turns into FS road 5520) to the trailhead. The trailhead is about 7 miles past the end of the pavement on Rock Creek Road and the last 5 miles are only suitable for high-clearance 4WD vehicles. The road up to Killamacue Trailhead has recently been used by logging trucks (as of summer 2023) and was in reasonable shape. The road between Killamcue and Rock Creek is very rough. We had no trouble in our 4WD truck, but it is a rugged ride.

After the Killamacue trailhead (which is not well marked), you will pass the Eilertson Meadows snow measuring station on your left.

You can check the snowpack data for Eilertson Meadows online. There may still be snow on the road in other spots, but this can give you a general idea of the conditions:

Continue onto the signed forest service road 5520.

You will pass several turn-offs for private roads- just stay on 5520. Take a left at this final fork and you will reach the trailhead. There is small wood sign on the tree marking the turn to Rock Creek, but it is easy to miss if you aren't looking for it.

There's room for a few cars at the trailhead.

Trail begins just behind this sign.

Trail Map.

Happy Hiking!

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