10 Things To Do This Summer
Warm weather has taken its time in arriving this year, and it will likely depart before any of us are ready.
It’s become cliche´to say that while winter may be what brought us to the mountains, summer is why we stay. Nevertheless, the summer months always seem to fly by in the Colorado high country.
As we embark on the Summer of 2014, here’s a list of 10 things to do before the snow flies. Enjoy!
Fish along West Brush Creek
Brush Creek is a great small stream. It is close to all the Eagle Ranch folks and it’s a quick, easy place to fish.
When fishing Brush Creek, make sure you’re on public land, and there are access points throughout Eagle Ranch and up Brush Creek Road. Respect private property and dress accordingly because as the name suggests, it’s a bit brushy.
Because of the lower elevation, Brush Creek usually has the least amount of mud compared to other small creeks around the valley, and at the surrounding scenery is magnificent. From the confluence of East and West Brush Creek, the waterway travels ten miles into the town of Eagle. There are also a lot of beaver ponds along the creek which result in fine fishing holes. Walk up and down stream, looking for the perfect little hole or, if you’re into fly-fishing, wade out a little and keep casting.
It’s said that the best time to fish in west Brush Creek is from 2:30 through 4:30 a.m. but another good – and more realistic – time is from 3:00 PM to 5 p.m. The fish also bite between 9 and 11 a.m.
Remember to purchase and carry a valid fishing licence.
Check out the Eagle County Historical Museum
Located at Chambers Park in the historic Chambers barn, the Eagle County Historical Society Museum is only open during warm weather months.
In addition to the big barn museum, the site includes a Denver and Rio Grande caboose and the relocated and historically restored Avon Store. The museum offers an array of local history artifacts featuring everything from a blacksmith’s corner to a full sized buggy to the linotype machine that produced the Eagle Valley Enterprise for decades. Volunteers from the historical society are on hand to guide a tour or supply stories. Admission is free but donations are accepted.
As an aside, Chambers Park is one of the most beautiful settings in Eagle and locals seldom enjoy it. Pack a lunch or grab some takeout from a adjacent restaurant and make your visit an afternoon outing along the banks of the Eagle River.
Hike up to Lake Charles and Mystic Island Lake (and Fools Peak)
Drive to the end of East Brush Creek Road south of Eagle where the Lake Charles trail begins near the Fulford Cave Campground.
The hike passes Lake Charles and ends at Mystic Island Lake. The trail follows East Brush Creek up to both Lake Charles, which is 4.4 miles, and Mystic Island Lake in the Holy Cross Wilderness. Come down the way you went up. It is a gradual climb with two short areas that are very steep. As part of the Holy Cross Wilderness, self-registration at the trailhead is required, but no fee is charged.
The trail is rocky with exposed tree roots and a few stream crossings passing aspen, and changing to dense pine, spruce and fir. Lake Charles is beautiful with its view of Fool’s Peak. There is a glacial cirque at the end of the valley above Mystic Island Lake.
Lake Charles is good for those wanting a shorter hike, but Mystic Island Lake an all-day, maybe even an overnight adventure. The decision comes at Lake Charles — you can continue on to Mystic Island Lake or climb out of the drainage for quick, but uphill scramble up Fools Peak. If you can’t decide, plan two days. If you decide on Mystic Island Lake, follow the trail as it skirts the north side of Lake Charles before continuing up the Brush Creek drainage for a farther 1.4 miles to the upper lake. This section of the trail (between the two lakes) is wet and marshy in spots, so make sure your boots are waterproof. This spot is worth the trip.
Check out the Usual Suspects
There’s a reason why the Hanging Lake hike, a fishing trip up to Sweetwater Lake or a bike ride through Glenwood Canyon are so popular — they are all wonderful ways to spend a day.
Because of their popularity, we suggest taking a mid-week break to check out any of the above. If you choose the Hanging Lake Hike, try to get out early so you will avoid trail traffic. While the trail is well-traveled, it is steep in spots so be prepared to climb. The journey itself is beautiful, but don’t turn back until you reach the lake. The destination is well worth the climb.
Riding a bike through Glenwood Canyon is a great way to reach the Hanging Lake trailhead, and its also a great way to really enjoy the spectacular vistas. The trail closes down during high water so the best plan is to ride it soon or wait until later in the summer.
The Sweetwater Resort has a terrific history including the exploits of a Chicago gangster. If you grab a bite to eat, the staff will hand you the resort scrapbook to peruse while you wait for your meal. The lake itself offers fine fishing and boat rentals are available.
Buy a Slush Puppie at the Nearly Everything Store
Are your kids that age where they don’t need a sitter, but they aren’t old enough to babysit younger kids? You know… that ‘driving-you-crazy’ stage. Send them off to bike or walk to the Nearly Everything Store, located at 301 Broadway in Eagle, for a Slush Puppie.
A Nearly Everything Store Slush Puppie is very unique to Eagle. It’s also a piece of history as the Nearly Everything Store slushies have been around for decades. By enjoying this one-of-a-kind treat, you’re partaking in an Eagle tradition. Just 45 cents gets you a small and 65 cents gets you a large. (50/75 cents if you opt to have a squirt of sour shocker). The store also offers 50-cent bags of popcorn to compliment their signature beverage.
Slush Puppies aren’t your typical slushies. The ice is so finely crushed that it swims in the sugary syrup. You don’t spoon these icy treats, you straight out drink them. Flavor options are raspberry, cherry, bubblegum, lemon-lime, Bahama-mama and grape. Slush Puppies are so popular, the store even offers Puppie Punch Cards.
After purchasing their Slush Puppies, the kids can leisurely walk to the Eagle Town Park to polish them off. Encourage the walk instead of biking – it takes longer.
Ride some Rapids
Chances are if you live in Eagle, you know someone who owns a river raft. The next time your acquaintance offers a vague invitation to spend the day on the river, jump on it and nail down a date.
Of course, there are also lots of commercial rafting companies operating in the valley that offer professional guides. These companies know what they are doing and theirs something to be said for the camaraderie that springs up on a boat. But there is also something to be said for private outings where you pack your own lunch and beverages.
This time of year the water is running high and fast so make sure your boat captain knows what he or she is doing before climbing on board. Later in the season, the rivers will offer fewer thrills but its hard to beat a leisurely day on the water.
The Upper Colorado, with put in at Pump House and take out at Rancho de Rio or State Bridge is one of our favorite river stretches. Recent Eagle County open space acquisitions have resulted in more put-in, pull out sites along the lower Colorado.
Drive Cottonwood Pass
Not the one in southern Colorado…the one up Valley Road in Gypsum.
Cottonwood Pass connects Gypsum to Cattle Creek south of Glenwood Springs. It’s closed every winter from around the end of November until mid-April. By mid summer, you won’t even need a four-wheel drive vehicle to make the trip. Not only is it beautiful, it’s a peaceful change from the typical Interstate 70 route.
Cottonwood Pass covers a total of 26.5 miles, but it takes a little over an hour to make the drive. The top is 8,280 feet, and the road travels through land owned by the Bureau of Land Management, which is used for ranching. The route passes through gentle, rolling hills and a broad alley before climbing through the corner of the White River National Forest to the pass. From the pass, the road descends through similar country but the views of several Elk Range 14’ers, including Snowmass Mountain and Mount Sopris, are awesome. The road eventually exits on Colorado 82.
High-clearance vehicles are preferred but not necessary. The dirt road may have some rocks, grades, water crossings, or ruts that make clearance a concern for typical passenger vehicles. The road is wide and mud is not a concern under summer weather conditions.
Kick back and enjoy some tunes
Summertime means lots of music options around the valley.
There is festival music during Eagle Flight Days Friday and Saturday, June 27 and 28 and the big Gypsum Daze concert Saturday, July 19 with headliners Easton Corbin and Mark Chesnutt.
But for many locals, the top concert venue of the summer is ShowDown Town — the free series at Eagle Town Park on Thursday nights beginning in July. The music starts at 6:30 p.m. and winds up around 9:30 p.m. Each concert includes a special kids activity.
Pack a picnic or visit one of the food vendors set up for the event. Bring your own lawn chairs and blankets.
Shoot Guns in Gypsum
Located on the north side of I-70 in Gypsum at 100 Gun Club Road, the Eagle Valley Rod and Gun Club is the place to shoot it up, in a safe and responsible manner.
Summer is a great time to learn about gun safety and shooting skills. The club offers individual and family memberships, which start at just $150 per year. Members can earn credit of $100 to cover 2/3rds of their membership for subsequent years. The membership credit is called a work bond, and there are several ways to earn it including participation in cleanup events or work on the facility’s Gypsum Daze float. There is an entire list of items to choose from.
The club also offers an archery range, and is home to many 4-H youth activities. The “Cowboy Action” shoot is worth checking out and as a member, you get great deals on classes.
Trap shooting and various competitions are offered at the club. To learn more visit http://www.gypsumgunclub.com.
Enjoy a beverage at a local patio
Nothing says summer like drinking and dining al fresco and Eagle has a plethora of places to do that. Additionally, many of these spots offer live music during the summer months
Over in Gypsum, the Creekside Grill deck is a great place to dine outdoors.
Not much changes in Red Cliff, Eagle County’s oldest town. But change is coming on Water Street, the town’s main drag.