8 replies [Last post]
Joined: 03/15/2010
Posts: 53
flattops access

has anyone hunted the middle derby creek drainage? If so where is a good place to park? like a trail head or a camping area.we are backpacking in for first rifle thanks

Joined: 07/16/2009
Posts: 70
I think Middle Derby Creek

I think Middle Derby Creek follows FR610, Stump Park Rd.  You can drive several miles back almost to the border of the Wilderness area on 610 (if I remember correctly).  610 is a very rough road with some tight turns and boulders to drive over.  If you have a Jeep or four wheeler, it's not a problem, but you'll have a hard time in a extended pickup due to the turning radius - although guys do it every year. There is a small parking area at the start of 610, but I'd drive in as far as I could to save my legs for hunting.  There is also access to South Derby Creek via FR613 and that road has a huge parking area at the start of the road (right off Derby Mesa Loop).  613 is a rough road too, but the turns are not as tight and you can get a pick-up at least five miles up.  In either case, I'd drive in as far as I could and camp or hunt from there.  If you walk in from Derby Mesa Loop, you are going to be at a huge disadvantage as there will be many hunters already in the area with fresh legs hunting from their ATV/truck/camp. FYI, if you drive on either of those roads in a truck, expect 5mph or less.

The Middle and South Fork flow down between FR610 and FR613.  The valley between the road has some very steep sides (which keep hunters out) but relatively level on the bottom.  and I've only seen one other hunter in the area in several years of hunting.  I've never seen an elk in their either, but have seen some nice bucks.  About 5 miles up FR613 you can find a few ridges that over look the drainage to the norht and you can spend hours glassing.

Good luck to you.

Joined: 03/15/2010
Posts: 53
what's better for elk

What's better for elk? The middle derby or would it be better to go to trappers lake and hike somewhere from there. With the campground at trappers lake it looks like there will be too many hunters in this area for my taste, but if there are elk there I'm open to dodgeing some hunters. I've scouted the stillwater reservoir area west of yampa and thought of mandall pass as an option. basicly I just want a spot to park and hike in a few miles and set a camp to hunt from. I've never hunted this area  before. I usually hunt wyoming but never got drawn there this year. any help to put me and a buddy on some elk would be greatly appreciated thanks  

Joined: 07/16/2009
Posts: 70
I've spent one year at

I've spent one year at the Stillwater reservoir and do not recommend it.  We didn't see anything in 4 days - not even a deer.  We walked 28 miles in those four days too.  Saw several hunters and hikers around the lakes near the road, but almost none on the top.  There is a trail at the Stillwater damn that goes south and straight uphill into the wilderness.  It's a brutal 2 mile hike to the top at 4:00am, but we did it every morning.  There was no one else on the plateau and it looked like awesome elk habitat and cover, but nothing, very few fresh sign either.  I bowhunted an area about 10+ miles from Stillwater last year and got into one herd of elk and bugled back and forth with three bulls, never got a shot though.  I'll just leave the location as 10+ miles from Stillwater.

We spoke with a ranger the year we were at Stillwater and he said he only knew of one elk that was killed out of that area in the first few days of the season.  Many of the other hunters we spoke with stated the elk get driven out (via horseback and helicopter) of that valley by the private ranchers to the east, to their private land just east of the National Forest.  Talk is cheap in elk camp no doubt, but I can honestly state I won't ever hunt that area again.

I have not tried the Sweetwater drainage and the CDOW website shows that area as a "summer elk concentration."  I think there is a private campground at the end of the Sweetwater road and there may be NF access behind the campground.  For day hikes, it might not be a bad place to go.

If you go up Middle Derby or Stump Park Road, you are mostly committed to hunting that area for the rest of the season.  The road is not something you want to repeatedly drive unless you have an ATV.  There are elk up there as a few outfitters post successful hunter pics from the area every year, but the elk (in my opinion) are few and far between.


Critter's picture
Grand Slam Challenge Winner!Moderator
Location: Western Colorado
Joined: 03/26/2009
Posts: 4413
One thing about the Flat Tops

One thing about the Flat Tops is that after the first rifle shot the elk head down into the canyons and onto the private.  Not all of them but a big part of them. 

justhuntitall's picture
Location: West Central IL
Joined: 07/18/2010
Posts: 18
I have hunted the Flattops

I have hunted the Flattops for several years ( Bow hunted ) and have gotten into elk every year . I drew my bow 3 times last year and did not release an arrow, had elk with in 20yards an could not get a shot.

As a group we done real well and have taken 2 bulls over 300" all with bow . I think the reason for our success is we know the area real well and hunt early bow season before all the elk get pushed out , and we hunt real hard for 10 to 14 days depending on the year.

But to gun hunt the area I would have know idea where to start.

Good luck

Joined: 03/15/2010
Posts: 53
trappers drainage

the colorado DOW says the trappers drainage is a good place to hunt if you want to get away from the crowds and walk. with a camp ground and a lodge there would have to be lots of hunters . has anyone hunted from trappers lake? Which way did you go? when the lead starts flying do they head west or south.I don't need gps coordinates to your favorite spot just a general direction to head . I've never been to the lake and google earth can only show so much. pm me if you don't want to advertise . I might be able to hook someone up with some good whitetail hunting close to colorado in exchange for your help

Location: Colorado
Joined: 08/12/2006
Posts: 6
I have hunted Trappers Lake

I have hunted Trappers Lake for the past 6 years, the hunting can be good but it will be very crowded. There are almost as many hunters in the first season as there are in the secound season in that unit so I hope that you did not burn any preference points for that tag. We have decided to hunt third season just because there are far fewer hunters.


300remmag's picture
Joined: 09/25/2009
Posts: 11
flattops first season last year

We hunted the Stillwater Drainage last year on horseback and found elk at the back of the basin straight west of the reservoir itself.  It snowed everyday so it was easy finding elk tracks, but it was about a four mile ride in according to GPS and the timber was so thick we struggled to get a shot on the elk.  There is a lot of downed timber due to old beetle kill making it very difficult to cover much ground off the trail.  We hunted a couple days with some other guys who had hunted there for years and got one of them a decent 5x5 bull.  They claim the elk had been pushed out of the area by shepard's gaurd dogs (they run thousands of sheep there in the summer).  Supposedly a majority of the elk have moved further east along the private ground.

This year we are hunting elk in unit 54 west of Gunnison.  Does anyone have any advice?  We are heading up there this weekend to scout access, but need to find a good camping spot to start out.  My main concern is finding a place to camp during second rifle season where we can get a horse trailer in, but be close to some trailheads.

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