The Nine Clues in Forrest Fenn’s Treasure Poem and The Thrill of the Chase Treasure Hunt

forrest fenn treasure poem nine cluesOn page 132 of The Thrill of the Chase, Forrest Fenn says, “So I wrote a poem containing nine clues that if followed precisely, will lead to the end of my rainbow and the treasure.”

Forrest has also said, “It’s in the mountains somewhere north of Santa Fe.”

So somewhere within Forrest Fenn’s Treasure Poem are Nine Clues to a treasure chest believed to hold over 1 million dollars’ worth of gold and other incredible artifacts, which is waiting to be found ‘in the mountains somewhere north of Santa Fe.’

One of the first questions to ask then is, ‘What are the nine clues in Forrest Fenn’s Treasure Poem?

When The Thrill of the Chase was first published in the fall of 2010 not much more was known about how to solve the poem, or determine what the nine clues were, other than reading The Thrill of the Chase and the poem itself.

However, since then, MW has featured numerous questions with Forrest which have been extremely helpful in offering ‘more to go on’.   Other news articles and interviews have also been beneficial.  We will go over some of these.

First here is Forrest’s complete treasure poem:

As I have gone alone in there
And with my treasures bold,
I can keep my secret where,
And hint of riches new and old.

Begin it where warm waters halt
And take it in the canyon down,
Not far, but too far to walk.
Put in below the home of Brown.

From there it’s no place for the meek,
The end is ever drawing nigh;
There’ll be no paddle up your creek,
Just heavy loads and water high.

If you’ve been wise and found the blaze,
Look quickly down, your quest to cease,
But tarry scant with marvel gaze,
Just take the chest and go in peace.

So why is it that I must go
And leave my trove for all to seek?
The answers I already know,
I’ve done it tired, and now I’m weak.

So hear me all and listen good,
Your effort will be worth the cold.
If you are brave and in the wood
I give you title to the gold.

As you can see from reading the treasure poem, there are nine sentences in it (when including the semi-colon).  You can’t go wrong by following the line of thought that the nine clues are the nine sentences because the entire poem is said to lead someone to the location of the hidden treasure.

However, in the New Zealand interview with Forrest Fenn, he specifically said the following:

“The first clue in the poem is ‘Begin it where warm waters halt’.  That’s the first clue.  If you can’t figure that clue out, you don’t have anything.”

So with Forrest saying that, it would seem when Forrest mentioned ‘nine clues’ he wasn’t referring to the nine sentences, because he skipped stanza 1, but nine specific items or phrases of the poem.

Before we go on, and look for the specific nine clues, we should always remember Forrest said the following:

Questions with Forrest (MW 2014) 

“There are a few words in the poem that are not useful in finding the treasure Phil, but it is risky to discount any of them. You over simplify the clues. There are many places in the Rocky Mountains where warm waters halt, and nearly all of them are north of Santa Fe. Look at the big picture, there are no short cuts. f”

Again, although there seems to be nine specific clues in the poem, the poem used and understood as a whole is extremely important.

Another question to ask is ‘has Forrest ever specifically said what the last clue is?’  Although maybe not as directly as he said what the first clue is, I think he has definitely implied it.  I think it is the Blaze.

The reason why is from Q/A’s posted on MW.  They are as follows:

Questions with Forrest (MW 2016) 

  • You’ve written an excellent poem that leads us to the location of a fantastic treasure. What do you feel is one of the main reasons it hasn’t been found yet? Thanks so much ~ jenny

Most of the searchers are very bright and make intelligent comments, either by email or on the blogs, but there seems to be more attention paid to the blaze than to the first clue. Perhaps that’s why the treasure hasn’t been found. f

Questions with Forrest (MW 2016)

  • Mr. Fenn: How far is the chest located from the blaze? ~ casey

Casey, I did not take the measurement, but logic tells me that if you don’t know where the blaze is it really doesn’t matter. If you can find the blaze though, the answer to your question will be obvious. Does that help?f

Questions with Forrest (MW 2015)

  • …….Whether related to geography, geology, history or even human nature, I’d love to hear if there’s been anything offered up by a searcher, or searchers, that enlightened you in some way.  Hope all is well!  ~ S&H

Thanks for the question S&H. I learn something every day from those who are in the treasure hunt.

What surprises me is that so many ignore the first clue in the poem. Without it all the searcher has is the memory of a nice vacation. Although many have tried, I doubt that anyone will find the blaze before they have figured out the first clue. f

From the above three Q/A’s, each time Forrest mentions the ‘First Clue’, he then refers to the Blaze, as if it is the ‘Last Clue’.  And in the one question he says that if you can find the Blaze, you will know where the Chest is, again, as if The Blaze is the last clue to finding the treasure chest.

Now, let’s look at the poem lines from where the first clue is : Begin where warm waters halt to the line where Forrest is suggesting from his remarks that the last clue is, The Blaze.

Begin it where warm waters halt
And take it in the canyon down,
Not far, but too far to walk.
Put in below the home of Brown.

From there it’s no place for the meek,
The end is ever drawing nigh;
There’ll be no paddle up your creek,
Just heavy loads and water high.

If you’ve been wise and found the blaze,

Very Interesting deduction and FIND!   As you can see there are 9 LINES from ‘Begin it where warm waters halt’ to the line with ‘the blaze’.

So I think we can say the nine clues Forrest Fenn most likely envisions when speaking about the ‘nine clues in his treasure poem’ are in the above section of poem.

There are variations to consider, however.  Even with this narrowing down, the line ‘Just heavy loads and water high’ seems to offer two clues—suggesting a line above might not actually be a line Forrest considers to be a clue. Looking at these nine poem lines, and thinking about what Forrest has said about ‘each clue refers to a geographic location’, then it’s possible ‘not far, but too far to walk’ might not be included as a ‘clue’.  NOT saying it isn’t extremely useful, but not a geographic clue as Forrest imagines and uses to define his ‘nine clues’.

However, there is another possibility.  What if ‘heavy loads and water high’ refer to the same thing?  As mentioned, in ‘Advice from Forrest Fenn on How to Find His Treasure Chest, we are told to ‘marry clues to geographic locations’.  In considering this option, could Forrest consider the whole line a clue, since they refer to the same geographic location?  That begs the question of what geographic feature is both ‘heavy loads and water high’?

I can imagine when Forrest was writing his book, and he got to where he wanted to write, ‘There are x amount of clues’- that he would start with what he considered the first clue, Begin where warm waters halt, and count to the last clue with the Blaze.

Whether he did it by line, or by ‘item’ is still undeterminable, but I think it can be said with confidence, the lines from ‘Begin it where warm waters halt to the blaze’ will lead someone precisely to his treasure.

Although, the rest of the poem, and the book offers help, it is ultimately the following of these nine clues within that section of poem, that will take a searcher to his treasure, like directions and an X on a map.

Best of luck with whatever you seek!  Treasure the Adventure!

Here is a video of MW talking about the above:



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90 Responses

  1. Chesney says:

    Thank You Ms. Kile, I believe you are closer to many others on this subject. The way I see the remaining lines and stanzas are hints. If you found the blaze, you’re standing at the spot! 🙂

  2. Jenny Kile says:

    I agree….. the way Forrest talks about the Blaze is that once the Blaze is ‘found’, then there isn’t any way you can miss finding the chest. It is there…..The poem from WWWH to the Blaze has provided you with directions to find the treasure. They are the nine clues.

    But like you say, the rest of the poem isn’t to be dismissed. It of course is vital, but it either finishes off thoughts or offers additional help and understanding to the ‘nine clues’.

    • Chesney says:

      What if; the first stanza is a hint, as well? 😀

      • Jenny Kile says:

        I believe a hint, yes…..

        I wrote this on the MW Forum– I’ll just copy/paste here:

        I’m sure there will be some who disagree (with the nine clues). Which is fine. I’m not trying to convince any one, but just offer thoughts to consider.

        The statements are looking at how Forrest seems to interpret or consider the clues in his own poem when thinking about it himself. This is most important. When ignoring all ‘preconceived notions, ideas, or wants’ on how to take the poem by one self, and ONLY considering things Forrest has said on how he takes it, it seems like the nine clues are from BIWWWH to The Blaze.

        Again, not saying the poem as a whole, and other phrases, like ‘worth the cold’ or ‘hint of riches and old’ aren’t vital to solving the location, but as for the nine clues which lead a person to the treasure, it seems Forrest envisions BIWWWH to the Blaze– by what he says. They are the clues a person follows as directions to the chest.

        There has always been that confusion on ‘hints’ and ‘clues’, by even Forrest himself, but with the above consideration of nine clues, I can understand how it might play out.

        Only with the chest can one know for sure, of anything. But this does provide me with more focus…(albeit always open to options)…

    • I tell myself this over and over and I’ve been at my blaze for months working out the final meaning. I hate running out of time each trip but it gives me time to rethink things.

  3. Pen Ghost says:

    Thanks, Jenny. Good recap. But I think people are still focusing more on the blaze than on the first clue. Once one thinks they have the blaze, they tend to dismiss the first clue and all the others that lead to the last clue. The blaze does not offer the big picture. That has to be seen from the beginning. I think without the other 8 clues, the blaze is meaningless and does not lead to the treasure at all. A blaze without the big picture is IMO worthless.

    • Chesney says:

      What if; when you are standing on top of the “Blaze”, you are also looking at the “Big Picture”? It’s “The Thrill of the Chase, I keep going back to that. Some people might think I am ‘Crazy’, but it is true! My metal detector said so! 😛

  4. MS girl says:

    Has anyone ever seen warm water’s halt reversed like salt water? Mr. Fenn used butterfly flutter by. It is all in there we just have to string it together. I am crazy also and need to figure it out it is a sickness and only finding indulgence will cure me.

    • Chesney says:

      MS girl,

      I don’t believe it has to do with “Salt Water”. If there was not a blanket of snow on the ground right now, you might want salt. WWWH is an authentic old ghost town that at one time was a “Steam Stop”, with a reservoir for steam engines with an old school house which is still standing to this day. Maybe I have said too much, but comfortable with my diagnosis. I have been wrong before, and could be again!

      • Brad Hartliep says:

        “There will be NO PADDLE up your creek” = The “Old School House” no longer exists – “We USED to travel 50 miles to visit a Schoolhouse ..” – the schoolhouse F reminisces about is probably GONE (No Paddle exists to be found) .. the old wood has rotted to nothing and returned to the soil .. or burned down and returned to the soil .. or been moved to an Old West museum (reference “Thunderbolt and Lightfoot” to get a sense of what the old schoolhouses were that could be moved – “moving” buildings hundreds of miles is common in Texas. It happened in the thirties and forties and it still happens today – I see it all the time and so did F when he was a boy) .. “No Paddle” refers to a place the USED to be an old school-house .. an old schoolhouse that sat along a shallow river (again referencing “no paddle” rocky shallow water) where the kids would skip school to go fishing ..

        The REAL Little House On The Prairie was (and still is) about ten miles from where I lived in Springfield, MN, along the banks of a shallow stream that eventually becomes the Red River of North Dakota – the flooding waters that we sandbagged near Springfield MN in 1997 eventually DESTROYED Grand Forks ND hundreds of miles downstream ..

        “No Paddle” is a double or triple entrendre referring at once to the shallow stream where boats couldn’t’ go, where chuck wagons got their wheels stuck or had their axles broken on giant boulders and where there used to an old one-room schoolhouse and church with the paddle of punishment .. to keep all the kids in line ..


  5. Five-leaf blaze says:

    I found the blaze around July 4, 2016. Since then, I have tried to piece the clues together. I found it somewhat accidentally, and have been trying to trace the “correct” way to get to it. I am not at all sure of what the first clue is. I found it interesting that Forrest hinted about having the blaze is nothing unless you know the first clue. More interesting was the batter at plate and red print answers he gave right after my discovery. (I sent him two words, and he knew I had it. Never answered me directly). I am pretty sure I’d be able to send him the best advanced questions if he’d answer them. My questioning would have to do with post-blaze. The blaze sits a thousand about clue 7. I’m guessing it is beyond clue #5 since I THINK I know what the first clue is now. “Begin it” being the first clue… um, no, let me just say that’s a bit misleading – however, it could be considered that by him, but from this end, there were dozens of functions that lead to what that line does. So if I can present him some questions on here, I’d bet things would get interesting.

    • Five-leaf blaze says:

      “A thousand” is a typo. That is meant to be *at. Also: I wasn’t sure what the first clue was, but may know now

    • Chesney says:

      Here is a great question you could as him, if he would answer you…. being that you know where “The Blaze” is.

      Mr. Fenn,

      “If I was correct, about the “Blaze”, would I be standing directly on top of “Indulgence”, and looking at “The Big Picture”?


      “If I were standing

      • Five-leaf blaze says:

        I think I’d ask: are there any other books or historical docs that one would use in this chase of any worth (besides maps)? How many layers to the solution? Post-blaze, is there a further twist to ceasing? People coming within 500 and then 200 feet.. does this mean with Google? Can we have a 2018 count on how many clues in the leading searcher may be?

      • Five-leaf blaze says:

        I’m just going to assure people that finding the blaze isn’t the end -not even close. It’s found before you go out the door.

  6. Buckeye Bob says:

    Excellent post, Jenny.
    I’ve wondered about the whole poem aspect many times. Is the rest of it, outside of the nine clues, “hints”? Or is he just telling a story for the benefit of the chase?
    Whatever the answers are, I’m sure that the one who finds it is going to really have earned what they get. Plus some more, probably.
    What a thing!

    • Brad Hartliep says:

      Stanza One is Important .. Stanza 5 is Important .. Stanza 6 is Important ..

      There are .. “aids” .. if you don’t want to call them clues .. that help in identifying and verifying that you are in the right location (s) .. they are .. “confirmations” that you are following the proper trail .. part of the Big Picture that Surrounds you ..

      Imagination is More Important than Knowledge ..

      Think Outside the Box ..

      Get Back In the Box ..

      Finding Bronze Beauty will take much more than Simpleton Brain Power .. This wasn’t written for Pencil Necks With Pocket Protectors sitting on Manicured Lawns in University —

      “Use Your Feelings, Luke” .. Get the Creative Juices Going .. Don’t TAKE a Picture – PAINT a Painting .. Let the Artistry of NATURE Guide You and Educate You .. — Think Like A Child – which means FEEL like Child .. PLAY like a Child — WONDER like a Child .. SEE like Child .. get down on your pants and see things that you haven’t seen since you were Eight .. Turtles in The Clouds .. Great Cities in The Sand Box .. – The Face in the Marble .. Cochise standing on a Canadien Bluff overlooking the Llano Estacado as the Calvary Rides into Distant Memory ..



  7. passenger says:

    IMO WWH is simple. In fact, when a searcher finally discovers it, they will kick themselves for not thinking of it earlier. However WWH is also an evolution and is not a stagnate place. The Poem at large is a huge undertaking with many deviations and 5 separate sets of rules. It may all add up to something simple, but Fenn wants the searcher to travel with him on his journey. There does not seem to be any shortcuts.

    • Chesney says:

      You seem to be “spot on”!

    • Pen Ghost says:

      A long journey, indeed. The more one travels, the longer the journey seems to get.

    • Pointfoot says:

      Indeed. I sometimes feel I’ve only scratched the surface as I’ve puzzled over the many pieces. Perhaps that is how many searchers feel. It is a fascinating journey of discovery. And I feel a better person for having traveled it thus far. I can only imagine the journey for the one who eventually retrieves it. I expect that will be a mind blowing experience. I just hope if it is ever found what Forrest has created will be shared so we can all appreciate it’s beauty and get to finally see some of the secrets that have remained elusive for so long.

      Blessings to all in the chase. Stay safe and wait for the snow to melt before blazing your trail.

  8. Chesney says:

    Here’s a fun trivia question for everyone… How many species of birds are in Montana?

    • Chesney says:

      Bonus question;

      What is the state bird of Montana? 😛

      • pdenver says:

        Montana’s state bird: Western Meadowlark

        Species of birds in Montana as of 2016: 432

        • Chesney says:


          Exactly! So add 4 plus 3 plus 2…. what do you get? Then in TTOTC …What bird did Mr. Fenn shoot to feed the family?

          All just a coincidence? 🙂

          • pdenver says:

            Hello Chesney. I believe the species count may be a coincidence, but the Western Meadowlark may be a good possibility to suggest a hint.

            • JC1117 says:

              Hello, Pdenver.

              Western Meadowlarks have a very beautiful song…and they sing it like they want everyone to hear it…and they have every right.

              It’s a very peaceful song.

              I heard them a lot in my youth as I played in the foothills and mountains near my home.



              • pdenver says:

                Hello JC1117. Thank you for the links. The bird is beautiful. I don’t recall if I’ve ever seen one before. I love their song. One particular bird I love to hear in the evening that’s very peaceful to me is the song from a robin. I don’t know why this is, but it does. There are many song birds I love to listen to. It really is a peaceful sound.

                Once again, thank you. I truly enjoyed them.

              • Stade says:

                When I was very young, my dad used to whistle the meadowlark’s song – in our meadow, of course. They often returned his call, and It was fascinating to me as a fiVe yr old. Now everything seems to be available on YouTube. So fun to explore through the wonders of technology.

                • JC1117 says:

                  That’s a Wonderful Memory, Stade.

                  “When I was young,
                  It seemed that life was so wonderful,
                  A miracle, oh it was beautiful, magical.
                  And all the birds in the trees,
                  Well they’d be singing so happily,
                  Oh joyfully, oh playfully watching me.

                  There are times
                  When all the world’s asleep,
                  The questions run too deep
                  For such a simple man…” – Supertramp, Logical Song

                • passenger says:

                  Nicely said Stade. Sounds like good times. But did you have to talk about YouTube?

              • Strawshadow says:

                A peaceful song sung by a messenger of the divine. Much like the axis of a cardinal somewhere in the back of my mind. Thanks JC117

        • pdenver says:

          After further research, it appears the Western Meadowlark is the state bird for Wyoming, as well as, several other states.

  9. pdenver says:

    Thank you for the post, Jenny.

  10. filmguy says:

    Will be get getting a 6 questions with ff this year?

  11. Iceman says:

    To find the treasure, you’ll need to go all the way back to high school.

  12. Iceman says:

    If I could ask just one question of Forrest:

    “How many fake treasure chests are out there? You know. … decoys.”

  13. Strawshadow says:

    Thanks Jenny, as always insightful.

  14. Iceman says:

    You won’t find the treasure til you first find the bullet. My opinion.

  15. Stad says:

    To TTOTC “in it to win it” searchers…

    It’s impossible, said pride.
    It’s pointless, said reason.
    Give it one more try, said the heart.

  16. Iceman says:

    If you were taking an exam and you didn’t know the answer to the first question, what do you do? Duh?You move on and come back to it later.

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