Skip to content

Arkansas River from Hecla Junction Hike

Distance2.36 mi
Elevation Gain121 ft
My Time1 hr 2 min
Closes TownSalida
Food NearbyBunny and Clydes

Hiking the Arkansas River from Hecla Junction Hike

One of the most popular attractions in Salida, Colorado are headwaters of the Arkansas River that run through town. A few miles a way from downtown is a chance at hiking the Arkansas River from Hecla Junction. Hecla Junction is a campground and recreation area right on the water that is popular with campers and anglers.

Getting Started

Hecla Junction is a popular spot that has a campground, small boat launch, and some picnic tables. It is very popular with anglers and campers. The hiking trail is more of a path worn by anglers who are looking for their perfect spot along the waters edge to toss in a fly.

The trail begins just to the west of the boat launch and follows the west bank of the river. There are several side trails that lead from the main trail to the water. The trail doesn’t immediately start right next to the water but it comes into focus pretty quickly along the narrow dirt path.

Near the water on the Arkansas River from Hecla Junction Hike.
Near the water on the Arkansas River from Hecla Junction Hike.

Hiking The Arkansas River

The hike is really pretty easy along the dirt trail with a few rocks. The trail has been well worn by the many feet trying to find the perfect fishing hole. The short hike is just over a mile out and alternates from being close to the water and being back off a little. When you are close to the water the views are sensational of the water and down the canyon.

Looking down the valley on the Arkansas River from Hecla Junction Hike.
Looking down the valley on the Arkansas River from Hecla Junction Hike.

There were a lot of people in and around the river the day that I hiked this hike. There were still some ducks and geese and other birds that were also floating down the river as well. The hike is great in a low intensity, take your time and enjoy the views sort of way. Nothing is really challenging but I found myself stopping a ton to look at the water or take one of the side trails that took me to the water side.

The Arkansas River.
The Arkansas River.

On the return hike , towards the campground, there is a nice little surprise. A couple of mountain tops pop over the tree line and stand above the rest.

Mountains Peaking above the trees on the Arkansas River from Hecla Junction Hike.
Mountains Peaking above the trees on the Arkansas River from Hecla Junction Hike.

There really isn’t much to the hike but even thought it is short and easy I found it really enjoyable. The water was a welcome sight, especially after a long winter of seeing nothing but frozen water. There are a lot of anglers around so it isn’t somewhere to go to get a lot of privacy but it is a great place to enjoy a rustic river walk. Plus, the campground is really nice as well!

Video of hiking the Arkansas River from Hecla Junction

I have put this time-lapse video together of the Arkansas River hike from Hecla Junction so other hikers can get a feel of what the hike is like. If you enjoy this video make sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel. It is free to subscribe and you will get the latest outdoor content.

Distance and Elevation

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 2.36 miles and had a total elevation gain of about 121 feet including undulations. That put the high point at around 7,397 feet. I was also moving for a total of 1 hour and 2 minutes.

I am a Pro member of Alltrails and love it. If you are interested in the platform, please consider using my affiliate link for AllTrails. It gives me a small commission with no extra cost to you.


There really isn’t too much to this hike and it is pretty easy. It does get a little more challenging on some of the side trails that lead down to the water but for the most part it is an easy trail that is easy to handle. I am going to rate it as Easy.


The trail is mostly well defined with a lot of side trails leading to the river that are less defined. The trail is mostly loose and soft dirt that can get a little dusty but is typically easy to manage.

Access to the Arkansas River from Hecla Junction hike.

In order to have access to the Hecla Junction recreation area you will need a State Park day pass which cost $10 dollars. If you want to stay at the campground there is an additional fee for that. The Hecla Junction Campground is located at 10142 Co Rd 194, Salida, CO 81201.

Wrapping up the Arkansas River from Hecla Junction hike

I really enjoyed the quick hike at the Arkansas River from Hecla Junction. The hike provides some amazing river views and the valley is also beautiful with high rocky cliffs around. The trail isn’t very challenge and it is more of a really enjoyable nature walk than a difficult hike.

The area is really popular with anglers so you will most likely have a lot of people around but the anglers are usually focused on the water and allow for some freedom on the far end of the trail. Overall, it was a really enjoyable hike and a perfect walk if you are camping at the campground.

I have added this hike and all of my hikes to my interactive map page that you can find here. If you have a suggestion or comment you can email me at Or follow me on any of the below social media platforms. Happy Hiking!

5 thoughts on “Arkansas River from Hecla Junction Hike”

  1. Henry and Lisa Austin

    Great video, the Salina area and Collegiate Peaks is a great hiking area!! Thanks for sharing! Henry and Lisa Austin

  2. The river is beautiful! For many years I owned property near Cotopaxi, located on the Arkansas River. I don’t know about hiking there, but watching the kayakers competing in the annual Fib Ark race was pretty exciting. Glad FM is learning more about this wonderful part of Colorado.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: