While Base Camp @ Grand Lake gears up for an action-packed winter of snowshoeing and cross-country ski trips, we are enjoying some Colorado Autumn Adventures beforehand. A few weeks ago, we enjoyed an awesome bike trip in Breckenridge, and we have had a few other fun adventures in and around Colorado:
1) Loveland: We left early Friday afternoon and took off for Boyd Lake State Park. We had read about the great Walleye and Perch fishing in Boyd Lake and we were eager to catch some! We even went to Cabela’s earlier in the week to pick out special lures for the trip. After we arrived at Boyd Lake State Park campground, we got our tent set up and headed for the lake. We fished for about two hours. I (Stella) caught a Wiper, which was just a touch too small to keep. With rain predicted, we headed to an early dinner.
After dinner, we enjoyed an awesome campfire using our Solo Stove, and then went to bed early so we could get an early start the next day. However, I awoke to the sound of someone watching the movie, “The Ten Commandments” from inside their RV. I listened to the entire movie until it ended at 2:00 am – lucky me. Somehow Larry did not hear it. I am not accustomed to sleeping in a tent. Aside from my time in the military, the only other time that I have tent camped was during our Lake Granby: Kayaking & Camping Adventure.
After breakfast on Saturday, we fished for several hours. Larry caught one or two very small Bass. I caught the same size Wiper as the day prior, as well as three very small Bass. Again, nothing we were able to keep. Just as we were packing up our things to leave and head out onto the bike trail, the winds suddenly blasted in, gusting at 34mph. Whoa!
We quickly headed back to our campsite and were relieved to find that our tent had not blown away. Unfortunately, someone else’s did. We had reserved our campsite for another night, but decided to pack up because the winds were predicted to be crazy all night. That meant no campfire and we would be stuck inside of the tent all night. We were both disappointed to have to cut our camping trip short, but we figured that staying would not be an enjoyable experience under those circumstances.
Sunday, we fished at Aurora Reservoir and Larry caught a 20-inch, fat-bodied Rainbow Trout! Returning from our trip earlier than planned had yielded an awesome fresh trout dinner on Monday night that we enjoyed with a friend. Hopefully we can fish there a few more times before it gets too cold.
2) Nederland: The following weekend, we puppy sat for a Golden Retriever named Sadie. She loves to go on hiking adventures, so we took off for Nederland in hopes of hiking up to Lost Lake. That is a hike that we had trekked with Aspen many years ago and it had been such a great time. However, when we arrived at the trailhead, there was no parking available and there was a park ranger keeping a close watch on things. This ended up being a blessing in disguise because it led us to a new hiking area that we had not known about.
We turned onto County Road 132 W and parked at the West Magnolia Trailhead. This location is a very popular area for mountain biking. We headed out onto the Whoop-Di-Dos trails and then turned onto Aspen Alley. This section of the trail was laden with Aspen trees, hence the name, whose leaves had already fallen. We wished that we would’ve hiked this trail about two weeks prior when the Aspens were at peak color. The trail wound around taking us to Lookout Trail. We then hiked west where the view of Happy Valley below was gorgeous, and the mountains were stuffed with beautiful full pine trees. The Indian Peaks Wilderness lay within sight just beyond the Eldora Mountain Resort.
At this point, the trail began to climb in elevation and was muddy and icy in some areas. We did not have our trekking poles with us and we did not want Sadie getting full of mud, so we turned around hiked down to the Observatory Trail, which eventually led us back to the trailhead. While we were hiking, our minds raced with thoughts about how great of an area this would be for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. There are many other areas branching off from the trails we were on, providing multiple paths to explore. We ended the day with a fantastic dinner at Backcountry Pizza, and Sadie slept like a rock that night. Our total miles trekked were 4.36 miles.
4) Leadville: It is hard to believe that we have lived and adventured in Colorado for nearly six years and have yet to ever go to Leadville. We have heard many speak about how gorgeous it is there, and we have read about the rich mining history of the area. We eagerly packed up our fishing gear and spent the last weekend in October there.
Leadville is not only known for its rich mining history, but also for notable historical figures, such as The Unsinkable Molly Brown (widely recognized in the movie “Titanic”) and Baby Doe Tabor, famous for her and her husband’s rags to riches and riches to rags story. If you enjoy reading about the history of the Wild West, then the story about the “Silver King” and “Baby Doe” are sure to intrigue you. Leadville is also the highest elevation city in the United States.
On our first day in Leadville, we immediately headed to Turquoise Lake. We parked at the Matchless Boat Ramp and headed out on the Turquoise Trail. The trail runs along the bank of Turquoise Lake and is an easy, moderately flat trail. Parts of the trail are sandy, while other sections have a lot of rocks. The views of the Sawatch Range were stunning, with the blue lake lying below. The north and west side of the lake is packed with lush green pine trees, the likes of which we are unaccustomed to seeing in our neck of the woods (Rocky Mountains National Park/Grand Lake).
The formal trail ends at about 5.5 miles, after which you need navigate your way along Turquoise Lake Road to complete the entire loop around the lake. We stopped around the 5-mile point and headed back to the trailhead, completing a total of 10 miles. It was a picturesque Colorado bluebird day combined with perfect fall hiking weather and unforgettable scenery.
After breakfast the next day, we took a scenic drive to Twin Lakes. Twin Lakes is located south of Leadville at the base of Independence Pass in the shadows of Mount Elbert, Colorado’s highest peak. Twin Lakes has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1974. We stopped along the lakes in a few spots to gaze into the Sawatch Range before we drove into the town heading west towards Independence Pass. (The pass is closed for the season). We turned around near the Parry Peak Campground before heading back down to the Willis Gulch Trailhead near Lake Creek. We would like to return to this area in the future to do some hiking and snowshoeing.
Afterward, we headed back to the Tabor campground/boat launch at Turquoise Lake. It was a spot that I had picked out on the hike the day prior. At the shoreline, the water is initially shallow but appears to get deep very quickly. This boat launch was a bit tricky to find based upon the signage, as the Tabor Boat Launch has been closed by the Forest Service.
It had been a very successful fishing day! Larry caught three small rainbow trout (but only kept one of them), and I had also caught and kept one small rainbow. With that said, however, we had several rainbows that somehow managed to spit the hook before we could bring them into the net. We used a water bobble with a dry fly called a “Chubby Chernobyl.” This is the same set up and fly that Larry had used to catch his rainbow trout at the Aurora Reservoir, as mentioned previously.
On a comical note, I will refrain from mentioning the extent to which I panic whenever Larry has me hold the net while the fish frantically flop around within it. Nor will I discuss the situations we have been in with the fish flopping around in our bucket and cooler. These situations have been quite a circus, and I am greatly relieved that no one has been around to make note of them. Today, I told Larry he needs to be more patient with me, and he said that I need to stop panicking. Hhhmmm…. Needless to say, I have a very long way to go with being comfortable with fish flopping around inside of something that I am holding and/or that I am in close proximity to. My job: catch the fish on the hook and reel it in. Larry’s job: absolutely everything else.
Once the fish were on ice, we headed back to Aurora and enjoyed a delicious dinner of lake-to-plate baked rainbow trout, roasted garlic and cream cheese smashed potatoes and green beans. We had a great time in Leadville! There are an abundance of trails to explore, and we look forward to some amazing adventures there this upcoming winter with our cross-country skis and snowshoes. This had been a fantastic finale to our Colorado Autumn Adventures!