Cheesman Canyon Trail

Distance*6.2 mi
Elevation Gain531 ft
*You can go as far into the canyon as you like so distance may vary.
My Time2 hr 28 min
DifficultyModerate
Closest TownPine
Food NearbyZoka’s

Cheesman Canyon Trail

The Cheesman Canyon Trail is a popular area for fly fishing. It was also one of the most relaxing enjoyable hikes that I have been on in awhile.

Starting Out

Parking for the Cheesman Canyon Trail hike is located at the Chessman fishing access lot. The lot fills up pretty quick as it is a very popular fly fishing area. To get to the canyon opening you will have to take a half mile hike through the woods. It looks a lot like any other wooded hike in the beginning.

The trail through a moderately wooded forest on the way to the canyon opening.

At the half mile mark you will see a sign that describes the fishing in the canyon below. From this point you will start to see the South Platte below you and the trail will lead you deeper into the canyon.

A placard describing the fishing and spots to fish inside Cheesman Canyon

Inside Cheesman Canyon

Once you get inside Cheesman Canyon the world becomes a bit serene. The trail will mix and match from walking high above the river on the canyon wall, to down close to the water. There are also several smaller trails that divert down to river access for fishing.

The South Platte River about 20 feet below the trail on the Cheesman Canyon trail.

The trail is a combination of a looser gravely dirt and solid rock that you will have to walk across. Some of the gravel got slick so make sure you keep an eye on your footing. The smaller trails jutting down to the water can also get really steep and loose.

Every step that I took just seemed to get nicer and nicer. The hike itself isn’t too difficult. The trail is narrow but the surrounding views are spectacular. Above and around you will be large rock formations and a scattering of trees. Below you is the water. Not sure I ever believed in gravity as much as passing this rock.

A giant rock that looks like a turtle shell sitting just off the trail.

The trail follows the river which has several bends. Each spot along the river seem to have its own unique views. Several large rocks have rolled down and taken home in the water. The water dances around and alternates between swift moving and deeper pools.

No matter how far you go, it will be difficult to find a stretch without a fisher gently tapping the water with a fly. I found myself wishing I knew how to fly fish! Even with out a rod in hand the hike was mesmerizing being caught between the solid rock and gentle flow of the water below.

Large rocks in the middle of the South Platter River looking back at a mountain peak in the distance on the Cheesman Canyon Hike

South Platte River

The South Platte River is one of the worlds best locations to fly fish in the world according to some. Based on the number of people there I can believe it. It was one of the nicest stretches of water I have been around in my hikes.

Having all the different boulders in the water gave each stretch of water its own life. It was at the same time calming and exciting.

The South Platte River flowing through Cheesman Canyon.

I’m running out of ways to describe the water but I took another video I wanted to feature. So here is another video for you!

Thank you for indulging me in this section.

Elevation and Distance

If you don’t have the AllTrails app you might want to check it out, I really love mine. It records your progress and is a great way to search for hikes that are nearby and gives you difficulty measurements. According to AllTrails today’s hike was around 6.2 miles and had a total elevation gain of about 531 feet including undulations. That put the high point at around 6,676 feet. I was also moving for a total of 2 hours and 28 minutes.

This could be different for everyone as you can go as far into the canyon as you like.

Effort

This one was a bit of a challenge. While there is not a big elevation gain there are a lot of ups and downs. The trails heading down to the water also add a bit more difficulty as they can be steeper. My Fitbit had an issue with the record today so I can only estimate the steps. I would say around 15,000 steps.

Terrain

The trail is in good shape in the wooded start area. When you get to the canyon the trail gets pretty narrow and there are spots where the gravely ground gets loose. When you go down towards the water the trail also gets a little loose and slick.

Access

The trail begins at the fishing access parking lot located at 23785 Co Road 126 in Pine, Colorado. There is room for about 20 cars in the lot and there is one pit toilet.

Wrap up

What an amazing place to visit. I’m not sure if it is because we had a rare 60 degree day in the middle of December but this hike really was special. The combination of the snow covered rocks and the flowing river. The giant boulders and tiny rocks on the trail. The sun and shade. Everything came together to make this a great hike.

The best part is you can go as far as you want on the canyon. If you just want the views you can make it a short hike. The longer you go the better the views but you won’t be disappointed at any point.

I have added this hike and all of my hikes to my interactive map page you can find here. If you have a suggestion or comment feel free to email me at fatmanlittletrails@gmail.com. You can also follow me on any of the below social media platforms. Happy Hiking!

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