Spring Arrives at the Ark. Headwaters Rec. Area
Most high country dwellers know what comes after a lot of spring snow: runoff! And it could be a year for the books, as the lakes are filling up fast, and the rivers are running high and muddy.
It’s the season everyone has been waiting for, so make some plans to get outdoors and have fun! The following are some recreational opportunities at the Arkansas Headwaters Recreational Area which is located south of Leadville, basically from the Malta curve south on Highway 24 to the Twin Lakes turnoff at Highway 82.
There’s been quite a few great recreational upgrades in the area if you haven’t stopped off the highway, make a point of it; you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Oh, and the views of Colorado’s highest peak – Mt. Elbert – as well as the southern Sawatch Range of Twin Peaks and Mt. Hope aren’t bad either.
The season’s have officially shifted so it’s time to put away the ski poles and grab the fishing pole. Some say the Upper Ark Fishing could be pretty good now that the streams are opening up. Sounds like a good time to check in with Tim Hill with Colorado Fly Fishing Guides located in downtown Leadville.
Upper Arkansas River (Between Leadville and Buena Vista)
The primary surge of run off has arrived on the Upper Ark, bringing the initial sluff and turbidity with it. The result is a poor rating for clarity. Current conditions are making it very difficult in the upper corridor for now. Thankfully we usually see this opening disturbance push through pretty quickly – we will let you know the day clarity returns.
In the meantime try some of our still water locations. The fishing at Crystal Lake, and Turquoise & Hayden Reservoirs can offer some great action.
Also consider a guided experience at Spinney Reservoir. This is one of Colorado’s gold medal gems with trout that are averaging 18” – 22”. This is a great alternative to the river while we wait for conditions to improve.
HIGH WATER CONDITIONS: The high elevation and proximity to the source of run off makes the Upper Arkansas River unique in the way it maintains clarity during high water. Outside of a handful of days during the initial surge of run off the river from Hayden Meadows to Granite remains quite fishable. Actually, in many ways, high water can offer some of the most productive fishing of the season if you employ the right techniques.
At Colorado Fly Fishing Guides we specialize in these techniques. Let one of our experienced guides share this knowledge and keep you on the water while most of the other rivers are too blown out to fish!
Arkansas River Ranch Trail: Try Something New
If you’re group is like most, it has a varied mix of interests when it comes outdoor recreation. So, if you’re looking for a new spot – or revisit an old one that has seen several upgrades – then the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area (AHRA) might just have what you’re looking for.
Last fall, this stretch of Lake County celebrated the newly completed Arkansas River Ranch Trail. A collaborative project which included efforts from the Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the Lake County Open Space Initiative (LCOSI), and county officials the project resulted in improved riparian habitat, as well as reclaiming the Arkansas River’s Gold Medal status among anglers.
The Arkansas River Ranch Trail runs along the Arkansas River from the Hayden Meadows Recreation Site, in the northern portion of the AHRA, two and a half miles downstream to the Kobe Recreation Site.
At Kobe, the trail meets up with an extension of the Saguache Range Trail and then continues back upstream to the Hayden Meadows Recreation Site through the Hayden Ranch, completing a five mile loop. The non-motorized trail is open for biking, hiking and equestrian use.
The Arkansas Rover Ranch Trail offers nearby recreational opportunities, while the casters in the group and get in some award-winning fishing at the Hayden Meadows Reservoir. There are two points of access to the trail. The first is off the Hayden Meadows Reservoir parking lot, just follow the dirt road east, just a bit past the man-made lake and you’ll see the trail head. The second access is further south at the Arkansas River Ranch Recreation Site parking lot, located via HWY 24, off of County Road 55. The turnoff can be seen directly across from the Moose Haven condominiums. For Copy of Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area Brochure, including MAP: CLICK.
“The spectacular scenery afforded by this trail, along with the public access it provides to one of the best trout fisheries in the state of Colorado, will add to the appeal for the public to visit Leadville and Lake County, already a popular recreation destination,” stated Commissioner Dolores Semsack at the ribbon cutting ceremony last September. And now that the warmer weather has arrived, it’s time to get out and enjoy it!
About the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area (AHRA)
The AHRA is managed through a cooperative effort between the Bureau of Land Management and Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Formed in 1989, this partnership allows agencies to provide visitors with recreation opportunities and care for significant natural resources of the upper Arkansas River Valley.
For more information: LINK