Area Conditions Bulletin - 6/13/2019
Hello Lake City Adventurers:
This past week we’ve seen rising temperatures and rising waters, and then a bit of a cool down. Fortunately, evening temperatures were still fairly cool for us, but spring is on, as is the great melt-down of our heavy snowpack.
Still, there’s lots of things to see and do in the Lake City area. Here’s just some suggestions.
That increased heat results in full run-off, which is where most of our streams in the whole area are right now. We’ve got chocolate water that is fast moving on most streams. The Lake Fork was 1,920 cfs this morning and is high and dirty. These conditions make for bank fishing and highly technical approaches on the Lake Fork – not impossible but perhaps challenging and not as enjoyable for some. Just stay on the banks and look for slower pockets, or throw to the banks. It’ll be higher and faster before it’s all done. The weather folks are forecasting warmer days, so run-off is full on and will stick around for a while this year. We currently cannot report that the Upper Lake Fork has any better clarity. We’re not noticing any hatches, so if you want to bank fish, try big and ugly, perhaps Pat’s Rubber Legs.
Cebolla is running very high and dirty throughout its flow There are some beaver damns around Hidden Valley that are pooling out some nice water, but it’s so dangerous, we wouldn’t step foot into the stream right now.
Brush Creek, however, is running mostly clear but high. It is fishable and is a good size. (It looks like the size of normal Cebolla.) Most can handle this water. Throw parachute adams, mid-range. Remember, though, Brush will be more difficult to get around because of the willows mixed with flooded open areas. We’re happy to report that we have seen some big browns lower down on Brush. Also, watch out for the moose!
We don’t have a report on Cochetopa yet, but are guessing that there might be some clear-but-fast waters on it. We’re planning to check it out next week and will let you know.
You can also consider the small streams around Continental Reservoir, which are clearing, including Spring, Deadman’s, Buck, and so on.
This is a great time to hit the still waters around Lake City. Lake San Cristobal, Continental Reservoir, Deer Lakes, and even Rito Hondo are fishing well. Try the shallow waters right now and fish off the edges with streamers or a double nymph rig. Use a slow retrieve with frequent pauses for those lethargic fishes. If flies aren’t your thing, try bright spinners for sunny days, or even power baits and worms weighted a bit if the fish aren’t rising. We can’t say that any particular colors are silver bullets right now, but silver spinners or tiger colors seems to do the trick. Green power baits too.
We’ve had some great avalanche tours this past week, even though County Roads 20 and 30 are not open all the way around the Alpine Loop. On County Road 30, we can get to the first winter gate closure and see a few of those mighty avalanches, as well as the Sherman ghost town. County Road 20, on the other hand, is closed about one mile past our ATV Staging area, so you can peek a bit at the destruction, but the views are not as robust as we get on Country Road 30 just because we really can’t get to them. In one day, however, we can take you to both sides, at least, and give you some mountain eye candy!
We’re also touring into the Rio Grande National Forest right now for some spectacular views and wildlife viewing. We suggest tours to and around the Bachelor Loop. We can also get almost up to Summitville. There are many stops along the way to see some beautiful lakes.
Remember, our guides know the area and how to get you in and out safely with fun and some great photographic opportunities.
For you peak baggers, getting to our area 14ers isn’t currently possible. That’s because both County Roads 20 and 30 at their gates are now closed to vehicle and foot traffic, as per the BLM. That means access to Uncompaghre, Wetterhorn, Handies, Redcloud, and Sunshine are just not possible right now. We’re hoping for openings soon, and will let you know when we know.
The good news, there are lots of other wonderful hikes in our area. Our favorites include Cannibal Plateau up by Deer Lakes, along with Brush Creek in that area. Off of County Road 30 is Camp Trail, another favorite, as well as Williams Creek to the top (but we don’t suggest descending on the Alpine Gulch side due to high stream crossings at the bottom).
Closer to town are Red Mountain Gulch, Waterdog, and Thompson/Larson/Crystal trails. We’ve had good reports of clear trails on the lower ends, but getting to the 11K range will still have you in snow. Also just north of town are Independence Gulch and Devils Creek. If you get to the top of Devil’s, you see the beautiful Powderhorn Valley … stunning really. And for more of the Powderhorn area, try the Powderhorn Park and Lake trails. If you need some support, our guides can get you up and down those hills with some fun and history added along the way!
Now if you want something new, our guides can get you into the higher Rio area on hikes such as Deep Creek Trail. This is a moderate to difficult trail that is nine miles one way but can be hiked out and back for some breathtaking views. Another favorite is Inspiration Point. It is labeled difficult because of the steep nature and countless switchbacks. However, this trail is 3.5 miles one way and has great views of the town of Creede and the Rio Grande River. The locals know this trail as Perspiration point.
If you are looking for campgrounds, there are quite a few open now. Try Wupperman on Lake San Cristobal for something closer to town. Or off of County Road 30 is Mill Creek and Williams Creek. North of town is Red Bridge and The Gate, our favorite, but it has been known to close during high water so be forewarned. If you want to be up Slumguillion Pass, the Deer Lakes and Cebolla area campgrounds are all open. And just past Slum and Spring Creek are North Clear Creek and Bristol Head campgrounds.
For you jeepers and OHV enthusiasts, we still have many places for you to go even though you cannot connect the two sides of the Alpine Loop. For Country Road 30, you can still get to the first winter gate to see avalanches, as well as meander into Sherman and the Cottonwood Creek road. You can also go off of CR 30 and up on the Wager Gulch Road (CR35), but you will be stopped by snow about a mile before the Carson ghost town.
Closer to town is Round Top Road (CR14) where access is just by our ski hill. Or go North of town on Highway 149 to Powderhorn. Again that Powderhorn area is large and beautiful and includes rides like Powderhorn Lakes (CR58), which is about 10 miles.
For you Big Blue and Alpine Plateau fans off of Highway 149 North, those areas are still closed. The gates were open the other day for a review of the area by the forest service. They are seeing too many large drifts up there to allow clearance right now. We’ll keep you posted.
If you travel South on Highway 149, try the Deer Lakes area (CR 788). It’s a long county road where you can spend some time at Deer Lakes and then travel through the Cebolla canyon area and into Powderhorn, ending at Highway 149 North of Lake City. You can spend the day on that one!
Just past Spring Creek Pass off of Highway 149 South is Continental Reservoir (FS 513). And while you’re there, don't miss crossing Highway 149 to stop and see Clear Creek Falls (FS 510). You look down into the falls from the viewing area. It is raging right now!
Just a bit further south off of Highway 149 is Brown Lakes (FS 515) and you can continue to Black Mountain Lake (FS 515 and FS 516 to FS 514 and FS 514.1E). Another option for the more adventurous is Heart Lake (FS 515 to FS 516 to FS 548 to FS 518.1B). The Rio Grande Reservoir road (FS 520), which normally takes you to Stony Pass (FS 520) is open as far as Pole Creek.
Something different and fun for you would be a pontoon boat tour on Lake San Cristobal. We offer evening boat tours on the Lake for wildlife viewing, conversation, and a bit of history. Give us a call for reservations. We can fit up to 13 people.
Remember that as you go higher on most of these roads and trails, you will run into snow and debris. You may have to turn around. For vehicles, that normally means some pretty tight turns.
Enough? We’ve got a few more activities for you to try while in Lake City, and our guides can get you there. So come see us or call us for more details. We can help you get “into the outdoors!”
The Staff at The Sportsman