The Gill Trail is named for Tom Gill who had a sawmill at location of the present trailhead from 1904 to 1907. He also constructed the road from there to Deckers. Cheesman Dam, at the end of the trail, was constructed as a water supply reservoir for the city of Denver and was completed in 1905.
The trail is used primarily by anglers wishing to fish the 3 mile Cheesman Canyon between the Wigwam Club and Cheesman Dam. Anglers will find Brown and Rainbow trout. Special catch and release rules are in effect for this area.
This 3.5 mile trail follows along the west shoreline of the South Fork of the South Platte River from just above Wigwam Club (private), upstream to the gaging station just below the Cheesman Lake Dam. As such, the trail serves as the primary access for those wishing to fish this 3 mile stretch of the river. This stretch of the river is considered good for brown and rainbow trout, and special “Catch and Release” rules are in effect. If you choose to hike to the gaging station, allow 2 to 2 ¼ hours one way. The first half of the trail is easy walking and the trail is fairly well defined. The second half up to the gaging station is moderately difficult to negotiate, with only a faint trail to follow at times. Watch out for the scattered patches of poison ivy along the trail.
From the trailhead on Jefferson County Road #126, the trail drops down over a small drainage then up a hill in a general southeasterly direction. Follow the silver diamond markers on the trees and posts. Shortly into the hike, there will be a sign stating all of the applicable fishing rules – please read and observe. After you have walked approximately 10 minutes, the river comes into view to your left down in the canyon. From this point onward, the river will always be in view on your left. The trail stays well above the waterline, so be careful not to follow the many side footpaths down to the water. When in doubt, always stay on the highest visible trail or path. The trailhead elevation is 6,548 feet and the gaging station elevation is 6,610 feet – only a slight elevation gain. But don’t let this fool you, there are numerous places where huge rocks jut out into the river and to get past these obstructions, the trail is routed up over the outcrops. The trail has many “ups and downs,” some are quite steep. The first 1 ½ mile is easy walking on a well-defined trails. Then as you pass mile 2, the trail narrows and becomes almost indistinct in places. You will need to always be on the watch for the trail – “hike with your eyes.” Again, when in doubt, always take the highest route. The last ¾ mile to the gaging station is quite difficult hiking. The canyon narrows, the slope increases, and the trail is all loose gravel. Be very careful here! At times, you may need both hands to move, so attach your fishing rod to your pack while hiking this stretch. You can reverse this hike by driving on Forest Service Road #211 (turn off Jefferson County Road #126 just west of the trailhead) to the parking lot on the north edge of Cheesman Lake. You have to hike down a Denver Water Board Access Road for 1 ½ miles to reach the gaging station.
Check out the Official Route.
This hike is listed as One-Way.
When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.