Length: 1 Mile Round Trip
Difficulty: Easy to Medium
From Alamosa, drive US 160 west 47 miles to South Fork. Two miles west (160 is heading South at this point) on way toward Wolf Creek Pass, take a left turn onto the road with the sign that reads ‘Beaver Creek Reservoir’. County Road 20 is Beaver Creek Road. Follow this gravel road for 6 miles to the end of the reservoir.
A sign for the Giant Fir Tree and wooden steps mark the trail beginning. Parking is along the road. It is free and pets are allowed.
Starting elevation is 8,912 feet and the elevation at the tree is 9,234 feet. Total gain is 322 feet.
This is an easy hike up through meadows and into the alpine forests for a short distance to see the largest tree in girth in the Rio Grande National Forest. Though not comparable to west coast redwoods, it is a unique standout tree for Colorado. The stunted top looks as though it may have been exploded off by a lightning strike at some point in the past. The trail is best from May to November for hiking. It can be accessed by snowshoes or cross country skis in the winter.
It is a dirt trail with occasional rocks and a few roots. It can be muddy or dusty depending on recent rains or snowmelt.
Bring your own water. Bathrooms available at campground across from reservoir.
Pleasures and Perils
This is one of those off-the-beaten-path Forest Service roads leading to camping and good fishing at Beaver Creek Reservoir. It is a nice, pleasant, short hike to see one of Mother Nature’s marvels. However, keep an eye on weather. The tree is in a wooded area where ticks may be lurking during tick season, from May through July.
Beaver Creek Reservoir is one of the bodies of water that holds a precious resource for the San Luis Valley. It gradually releases water into the Rio Grande. It is a good place for fishing and camping with access up the roads into the higher parts of the south San Juans. This Douglas Fir Tree is hundreds of years old.
This is a fun, short, and educational hike for kids to learn the science of big trees.