Rock Creek Trail

Rock Creek Trail, Ochoco National Forest

Hike Rating: Moderate
Hike Length: 7.6 miles roundtrip (variable)
Elevation Loss: 620’
Trailhead Elevation: 5,520’
Best Season: June through September
Driving Access: Any vehicle

Plus Points
• A pleasant hike through an unspoiled stream canyon
• The last 1.5 miles of trail follows the historical Waterman Mining Ditch
• A well-built trail on a moderate grade makes for easy walking
• Abundant wildflowers into mid-summer and bird life year-round
• Scenic views up and down the canyon from the mining ditch section
• Remains of an old log cabin built by miners is a good hike destination

Minus Points
• A few short trail sections in the lower canyon are eroded and slippery
• Mining ditch trail is not regularly cleared, so expect a few deadfall trees

Download (PDF, 673 KB): Photos of Rock Creek Trail
Download (PDF, 588 KB): Topo Map for Rock Creek Trail
Download (PDF, 480 KB): Road Map for Rock Creek Trail

Trail Notes
Map of Rock Creek Trail
From the trailhead at Potter Meadows, the trail drops 0.4 miles down into Rock Creek, where it crosses a sturdy footbridge onto the north bank. For the next two miles, the trail parallels the north bank, staying 10’-50’ above the stream. Pure stands of larch are on the moister, north-facing slopes, with mature ponderosas on the drier, south slopes and lodgepoles and willows along the stream.

At 2.4 miles, a small interpretive sign announces the Waterman Ditch, a now defunct diversion of Rock Creek that was contoured around the hillsides in the 1890’s to reach a gold mining district ten miles away near Spanish Peak to the north.

The trail then follows this old mining ditch on a level grade for 1.4 miles to Fir Tree Creek. In this section of trail, there are great views up and down the canyon, but it is not regularly maintained, so expect to crawl over a few downed trees. At Fir Tree Creek are the remains of an old log cabin built by the miners, which makes a good hike destination, with shady lunch spots nearby at creekside.

Road to Trailhead
This trailhead is easily accessible on good gravel roads that can be driven by any passenger car. From the main gravel Road 12, go 3.7 miles east on Road 1250 to a tee at Road 38. At this tee, turn left and drive 1.8 miles east on Road 38 to Potter Meadows, where there is a small gravel parking lot on the left (north) and a trailhead sign.

Camping Options
The nearest developed campground is the Cottonwood Campground, about 6 driving miles northeast of the trailhead, off gravel Road 12. This is a pleasant site on a high bench above Rock Creek, near a dry upland meadow with old growth ponderosas. There a six free campsites and a vault toilet, but no drinking water supply. (A spring emerges at the campground, with a piped outlet, but the water is apparently not potable). Any size camping setup can be accommodated here.

Agency Contact: Ochoco National Forest, (541) 416-6500

DISCLAIMER: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this information, but the authors do not guarantee that it is either current or correct. The reader assumes full responsibility for any use of this information, and is encouraged to contact local federal land agencies to inquire about current conditions before traveling.

Page last updated: 12/26/11