Eagle County’s (and beyond) natural water wonders
August 2, 2013
With no humidity and that fresh mountain air, Colorado is dry like a basket of fresh laundry. Most of us like it this way, as it can do wonders for oily skin and hair and we never have to overspend on sweat-proof beauty products. But if you grew up elsewhere, near a lake or a beach, summertime in the Vail Valley can leave you wishing for a chance to at least splash in a small pond to feel hydrated. We may live in a dry climate, but we don't live in a desert. There are plenty of local water spots and water activities to engage in this summer if we know where to look. Here are some ways to cool off and get wet this summer, before our water supply turns into that other valuable commodity we love so much: snow.
Try paddle boarding, and pilates
Gaining in popularity, there's still plenty of locals who have yet to try their hand at stand-up paddle boarding (also known as SUP). If you've never SUP'ed before, this summer is the perfect time to do it because the water levels this year haven't been too high or too low, said Sean Glackin, owner of Alpine Quest Sports in Edwards.
"There's no reason not to give it a try," Glackin said. "It's not very intimidating and pretty easy to pick up and learn. It's a great way to enjoy the sights of the mountains."
“There’s no reason not to give it a try,” Glackin said. “It’s not very intimidating and pretty easy to pick up and learn. It’s a great way to enjoy the sights of the mountains.”
Alpine Quest Sports in Edwards offers lessons on Nottingham Lake and there are a variety of other places in town to rent gear. Glackin said for first timers, try starting at Dostero and continuing downriver. For those more advanced, the Grizzly Creek area within Glenwood Canyon or up by State Bridge in Bond are also good spots to paddle the day away.
If you want to add a twist to your SUPing routine, Live For Balance in Edwards offers Pilates and yoga on paddle boards every Tuesday from 10:30 a.m. to noon through the month of July. Owner of Live For Balance Liz Ziegler said doing pilates on a paddleboard can help improve your strength and balance.
"You're learning so much about stability (by being) on the water," Ziegler said. "It's also a ton of fun and a great meditative hour on the lake."
To sign up for Pilates/Yoga Paddleboard visit http://www.liveforbalance.com
Hike to a hidden lake
The geography of The Rocky Mountain's creates a variety of hidden lakes that one can hike to for a spectacular view. One of the closest lakes is Beaver Lake, which overlooks Mt. Jackson and is accessible from the top of Chair 6 in Beaver Creek Village. Nate Goldberg, manager of the Beaver Creek Hiking Center, said the five mile hike takes about 3 hours round trip to complete.
"It's a real iconic hike," Goldberg said. "It's the source of Beaver Creek and what the resort was named after."
If you want more of a challenge, you can continue on to Turquoise Lake, which is an additional three miles from Beaver Lake. Plan to leave early in the day to complete this 14-mile roundtrip hike. For more info on Beaver Creek hikes call 970-754-5373.
If you want the picturesque scenery without all the legwork, drive up to Piney Lake, accessible off of Red Sandstone Road in West Vail. The largest private lake in Colorado, Piney Lake also has canoeing, fishing and horseback riding. You can also hike to Upper Piney Lake, which takes about 45 minutes and boasts a cascading waterfall. If you get lucky, you might be able to spot a moose or get a good photo of the mountains reflecting off the water. For more information, visit http://www.pineyriverranch.com.
Another water spot to skip rocks along is Sylvan Lake, located off Brush Creek Road in Eagle and popular for it's camping and non-motorized boating. Call 970-328-2021 for more info.
For the full Colorado mountain snow run-off experience, hike through gorges to get to Missouri Lakes, a 4.4 mile hike accessible off of Highway 24 past Minturn. The lakes themselves are quite chilly, but that didn't stop this bold journalist from taking a dip. Visit http://www.fs.usda.gov for more detailed directions.
Catch your own
Logan Johnson, general manager of Minturn Anglers, said the one thing fly fishing has over some other summer mountain activities is that you don't have to worry about "hurting yourself while doing it." Locally we've got more than 40 miles of fly-fishing spots in the area to choose from along the Eagle River and Gore Creek. Johnson said both Homestead Creek (south of Minturn) and the area along Eagle River past I-70 (before Minturn) are prime for getting your hooks on some brown or rainbow trout. You may not think you have the patience to wait for that big catch, but you might find that fly fishing has other benefits.
"The number one thing (people) are most impressed by with fly fishing is how tranquil it is," Johnson said. "It's very relaxing and a great way to experience the beauty of the area."
Pools are everywhere, but having an overflowing number of nature-made aquatic attractions in your own backyard is a rare thing. Even rarer is the chance to capture both a roaring gorge and a majestic mountain in the same viewfinder. With so many ways to enjoy our local lakes and rivers, you may find that you don't really need the beach, or a view of the ocean, to have the perfect summer.