Rock Creek Drainage
This stage of the trail will require you to scratch your head if you look at a map, because you are about to lose nearly 1,000 feet in elevation on the east side of the drainage, then gain it all again on the west side of the drainage. To add insult to injury, the trail in this area is quite rocky and takes more time to complete than you would think. It's also covered in very thick timber, so don't expect to see much scenery outside of trees along this stretch of trail.
The main water source in this area is Rock Creek. It runs through the bottom of the drainage and is a decent sized creek. It has lots of fish too. The west side of the drainage has many springs, so don't worry about water while passing through this section. Camping in this area isn't ideal. You'll find a few level spots to pitch a tent, but it's an area that is probably better to keep moving through if possible. The tops of the drainage on both sides are more suitable to camping in this area.
In August of 2020, the East Fork Fire started in the Rock Creek drainage and burned much of the watershed below the Highline Trail in this area. Trail closures in this area have persisted since the fire began. Information about the fire and current trail restrictions can be found on our Facebook page and at .