Sylvan Lake State Park offers something for everyone | VailDaily.com

Sylvan Lake State Park offers something for everyone

Kirsten Dobroth
Special to the Daily

EAGLE — Known for an idyllic balance of tranquility and outdoor activities, Sylvan Lake State Park, located just outside of Eagle, offers something for everyone and is a scenic place to spend a day by the water.

Ron Gray, a longtime local of Glenwood Springs, explains the draw of the park as he watches his young grandson fish from the banks of the lake.

"It's great," he said. "My grandkids wanted to go somewhere that we could camp, be by the water and take the dog, and we can do all of that here."

Gray, who volunteered at ski patrol for several years when Vail Mountain first opened in the '60s, emphasized the importance of having access to such pristine forest land so close to the community.

"It's a beautiful and quiet spot where my family can spend time together. I've been in the area for a long time, and it's really nice that there are still so many areas to get away from the crowds," he said.

While the peacefulness of the park is a major draw to many, park rangers similarly credit the abundance of activities as something that keeps even more people coming back each summer.

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Hike

While the state park offers extensive access to the surrounding White River National Forest and Holy Cross Wilderness, visitors to Sylvan Lake State Park have plenty of options for day hikes within the park as well. West Brush Creek Trail, for instance, is a 5.8-mile one-way hike that takes visitors through vast meadows, forests and past old homesteads. The park even lends out snowshoes in the winter so visitors can enjoy the trail regardless of season. For a shorter trek, guests can stroll along the 1.5-mile trail that wraps around the lake and grants access to fishing and picnic opportunities.

On the Water

There are plenty of opportunities within Sylvan Lake's 42 acres for water sports enthusiasts looking to get their feet wet. Kayaks, paddle boats and canoes are available for rent at the lake for half or full days and provide an excellent way to enjoy the serenity fostered within the park. Additionally, fishing at the lake is another popular pastime as the lake is stocked with rainbow and cutthroat trout, and the park is happy to lend poles to kids for free on a per day basis. Fishing licenses can be picked up at the park Visitor Center.

Weekend Programs

In a continued effort to educate and entertain the many recreationalists that visit Sylvan Lake State Park, the park puts on weekend programs, free of charge, throughout the summer. While all ages are welcome, the programs typically are aimed at younger visitors and seek to foster active engagement between youth and the surrounding environment. Some of this summer's activities include hiking to beaver dams, investigating stream biology and yoga by the lake.

Camp

Sylvan Lake State Park has many different options for overnight use within its boundaries. Extensive designated spots by the lake are available by reservation from through Sept. 30 and are a great option for families or groups. For a unique experience in the woods, cabins and yurts can be reserved for overnight stays within the park. Both the cabins and yurts are available for rent further into the fall than the campsites and are a comfortable way to enjoy a night in the White River National Forest.

Plan an Adventure

While Sylvan Lake State Park is a great place to plan a trip and enjoy the peace and quiet, for adventurers looking to explore more of the area, check out Crooked Creek Pass to venture farther into the White River National Forest. Accessible via the state park, a four wheel drive vehicle is highly recommended on this narrow, dirt pass that takes outdoor enthusiasts through some spectacular sections of forest and lends itself to breathtaking views of the Sawatch Range, Burnt Mountain and Williams Mountain. A copious amount of primitive camping sites are also accessible via the road for those looking for an unbridled experience in the Holy Cross Wilderness.

For access to amenities within the park, the State Park Service asks that visitors either pay the $7 fee for day use or purchase an annual pass for continued use throughout the year. The Sylvan Lake State Park Visitor Center is a great resource for information about activities and maps of the area and can be found on the road heading into the park. Further information about the park can be found at cpw.state.co.us.