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Flat Tops 40

Ripple Creek Lodge's Flat Tops 40 is truly an epic adventure into the backcountry of Colorado. Spend 4 days and 3 nights exploring the best that Colorado has to offer, Trophy trout fishing, wilderness camps, remote trail riding and enchanting landscapes encompass this adventure and incredible ride.

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$1,500 per Rider
Includes meals, horse, camp and guide
 
$1,000 per Rider (Your Horse)
Includes meals, camp and guide
 
$500 deposit
Balance due date of the ride
 

Arrival

Please plan to arrive at Ripple Creek Lodge at least two hours prior to the start of your ride. This will allow our guides the opportunity to meet you, discuss your ride expectation and experience, fit you to a horse and saddle and organize your gear.

Ripple Creek Lodge is located at the mid-point of the Flat Tops Scenic Byway, halfway between the Towns of Meeker and Yampa. The road from Yampa is 40 miles of well-maintained gravel while the entrance from Meeker is 30 miles of pavement before the last 10 miles of gravel. Please visit our website for directions. www.RippleCreekLodge.com

If you are flying into Colorado for your ride please let us know as soon as you have your flight confirmed, so that we can plan your pick up from the airport.

When you arrive at Ripple Creek Lodge the payment for the remaining balance of the ride will be due. Payment will be accepted in the form of cash, money order or credit card.

Pack-In

Due to the remote locations of our camps and the wilderness terrain covered to access the camps horses are used to pack every item in camp. All riders will only be allowed to take this list of items into camp.

  • 1 Duffle Style Bag (weight not to exceed 35 lbs.)
  • 1 Small day pack (to be carried with you, on your horse)
  • Sleeping bag
  • Fishing Pole

The Camp

Ripple Creek Lodge’s drop camps are located in some incredible wilderness locations. It is up to our clients to preserve it that way by keeping a clean, safe and quiet camp during your stay. All camps will have three 12x14 canvas wall tents. One wall tent will be set up as the cook tent with a stove, lantern, prep table and cooking equipment. The other two tents will be set up as the sleeping tents containing cots, ground tarps, a heater and lantern. Ripple Creek’s drop camps are set in their permitted area prior to your arrival and will include the following equipment;

  • Tents
  • Stove
  • Heaters
  • Lanterns
  • Cooking Pots and Pans
  • Paper Goods
  • Cots
  • First Aid Kit
  • Water Carrying Container
  • Toilet Seat 

All of Ripple Creek Lodge’s drop camp sites are located next to a water source. Most of these water sources are small springs and produce good water. It is the guest’s responsibility to purify the water for safe consumption. All heating, lighting and cooking equipment is fueled by propane.

Meals

Breakfast and dinners will be prepared by your guide at each camp. Meals will be hearty camp food cooked either on the open flame or on the camp stove. Items for sack lunches will be at each camp for you to prepare for the days ride. Snacks and any special foods must be provided by you.

Horses

If you plan on bringing your own horse for the ride, Ripple Creek Lodge will have feed available for your horse at each camp. Pack pellets and grain will be onsite prior to your arrival at each camp site. Ripple Creek Lodge will also provide a highline for your horse to be tethered to overnight. If you prefer alternative feed or livestock containment please contact us to make those arrangements. Each group of riders will have a guide and at least 1 pack horse for food and gear.

Commitment

Ripple Creek Lodge and its guides are committed to providing all of our clients a safe unforgettable ride through some of the most beautiful and remote wilderness in Colorado.

We will use horses to access our remote camps in the Flat Tops Wilderness Area. The trails into the wilderness are rugged, steep and can be wet and challenging. Our horses are seasoned trail horses capable of handling the worst of these trail conditions. It is important for you to be comfortable riding in these same conditions. A good way to prepare for this is to go to your local horse stables and go on a few one to two hour trail rides prior to your ride, just getting comfortable on and around a horse on flat terrain will help when you’re in the backcountry. 

The Country

Ripple Creek Lodge is located in the heart of the White River National Forest and surrounded by more than half a million acres of public land. This remote environment holds numerous wildlife species, geological formations and eye popping vistas. It also is home to very few people and an untold number of hazards. Elevations will range from the 8600ft at the Lodge to over 11,000ft along some of our trail routes and will vary in foliage from large alpine meadows carpeted in native grasses to aspen covered hillsides, dense fir, pine and spruce forest and alpine tundra.

The Conditions  

Weather in July and August can vary as much as the terrain we’re riding in. In general you can expect 40s in the early morning and more mild temperatures between 50 and 60 degrees during the heart of the day. You can also expect afternoon thunderstorms at least during a portion of your ride. This extreme weather range requires some in depth thought into your gear for the ride. A good quality, zero degree rated sleeping bag is a must for all riders in camp along with good light weight rain gear, sun screen and warm layers for those cool mornings and evenings.

The Gear  

Use this check list to make sure you have these items with you during your ride with Ripple Creek Lodge.

  • Riding Boots
  • Rain Gear
  • Socks (1 ½ sets per day)
  • Sun Screen
  • Fishing Gear
  • Fishing License
  • Ball Hat
  • Stocking Hat
  • Sweatshirts (layered clothing)
  • Toiletries (Toothbrush, soap, prescriptions)
  • Sleeping Bag (Rated at zero degrees or better)
In addition to the items listed above each rider should carry a day pack that includes this suggested gear and survival items.
  • Camera
  • Knife
  • Lighter
  • Compass or GPS unit
  • Topo map
  • Fire starting material (paper, candle)
  • Emergency space blanket
  • Small first aid kit
  • Orange marking tape
  • Snacks
  • Water bottle
     
     

Day One

Himes Peak Campground to Wall Lake

Trails: Big Fish Trail #1819 - Oyster Lake Trail #1825 - Wall Lake Trail #1818

Length: 8.5 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Elevation: 8,782 – 10,986 (Highest Point 11,100ft)

Highlights of the ride

The ride begins at the Big Fish Trailhead located in the Himes Peak Campground. The trail leaves the campground and crosses the North Fork of the White River via a foot/horse bridge. The trail follows Big Fish Creek into the Flat Tops Wilderness Area where Bessie Falls is almost two miles into the ride on the east side of the trail. The lower portion of the ride is a gentle gain in elevation through several large open meadows full of wildflowers with a few small stream crossings. This portion of the ride travels through the remains of the 2002 Big Fish fire. Big Fish Lake is located 3.5 miles from the trailhead and will be the stopping point for lunch. The lake is a very scenic mountain lake full of trout. Cutthroats, Rainbows and Brook Trout are all found in the lake and can be caught using a variety of presentations.From Big Fish Lake we will continue up Big Fish Creek for ½ mile and then start the 2 mile switch backed accent to the top of the Flat Tops. The trail will intersect the Oyster Lake Trail at the top of the climb where we will continue east for a mile to the intersection of the Wall Lake Trail. This portion of the ride will offer views of the valley below and the open expanse of the Flat Tops. Wall Lake sits below the 12,002ft Trappers Peak and has historically been a great trout fishery. The first nights camp will be located near this 45 acre Lake.

Day Two 

Wall Lake to Island Lakes

Trails: Wall Lake Trail #1818 – Trappers Lake Trail #1816 – Island Lakes Trail #1842

Length:  5+ miles

Difficulty: More Difficult

Elevation: 10,986 - 11,200 (Highest Point 11,540ft)

Highlights of the ride

Day two’s ride will begin as we leave the Wall Lake camp heading southeast towards Shingle Peak on the Wall Lake Trail. As we pass the west side of the lake we will be climbing the “wall” and crossing into the south fork drainage of the White River. The trail continues through alpine tundra on the Wall Lake Trail for 2 miles until we come to the intersection with the Trappers Lake Trail. From this intersection will continue along the Trappers Lake Trail in a northeast direction for 1.5 miles until we reach the Island Lake Trail. This portion of the trail is dotted with small ponds and distinctive water features. The open tundra is full of wildlife and plant species very unique to this environment. Once on the Island Lakes Trail we begin the decent into the Island Lakes Basin. The basin holds Upper Island Lake which is 27 acres, Middle Island Lake, 15 acres and Lower Island Lake, 28 acres as well as several small lakes.  All three lakes contain good populations of rainbow and cutthroat trout and can be caught with a variety of flies and lures. The views above the Island Lake basin are unforgettable and are without a doubt the inspiration for this group of Lakes name. Incredible wilderness scenery, wildlife sightings and great trout fishing are on the agenda during our stay at this camp.

Day Three

Island Lakes to West Lost Lake

Trails: Island Lakes Trail #1842 – Chinese Wall Trail #1803 – Lost Lakes Trail #1103

Length: 13 miles

Difficulty: More Difficult

Elevation: 11,200 – 10,296 (Highest Point 11,820ft) 

Highlights of the ride

Day three of the ride will be the longest portion of the ride. The entire ride will take place above tree line and cover some unbelievable country. Starting from Island Lake we’ll travel up to the Chinese Wall trail and head north over miles of open alpine tundra. 7 miles north of the Island Lake Trail intersection we’ll intersect with the Devil’s Causeway Trail. From this point we’ll take a short detour to explore one of the most sought out natural wonders of the Flat Tops. Devil’s Causeway is a land bridge that is only 3ft wide and drops down over 500ft on each side of the crossing. The causeway is no longer passable for horses but you can scramble across the amazing geological formation on foot if you dare. From Devil’s Causeway we’ll again join the Chinese Wall Trail and follow it northwest for 4.5 miles to the Lost Lakes trail where we’ll descend into the Lost Lakes’ basin and camp for night #3. The ride on day three will be a long journey in some very remote country full of unique terrain.   

Day Four

West Lost Lake to Ripple Creek Lodge

Trails:Chinese Wall Trail #1803 – Lost Lakes Trail #1103 – Lily Pond Trail #1811

Length:  6 miles

Difficulty: More Difficult

Elevation: 10,296 – 8,649 (Highest Point 10,820ft) 

Highlights of the ride

From West Lost Lake we’ll ride to the ridge that divides the White River and Williams Fork drainages then cross the ridge and follow the Lily Pond Trail west towards Ripple Creek Lodge. The trail from the divide will meander through open meadows, stands of aspens and large old growth stands of pine and fir trees. The trail passes through an open meadow with a pond that has water lilies blooming in which the trail gets its name. This will be the shortest ride of the trip and will leave us plenty of time to explore the features of the subalpine forest as we head back to the Lodge.