Ready for the weekend?


— It tends to be the norm for most working-stiff locals who love to camp.

Come home from a hard week's work on a Friday; fill the backpack with all the goods; throw it in the car; and take the best Friday night camping spot you can find before it gets dark. The next day, get up and have an adventure.

"It's spending time outside, that's why most people live here," local Rahja Ciel-Tilton said. "I've got to fit it in when I can."

For Ciel-Tilton, the obvious place to get in to the woods quick from Steamboat Springs is Buffalo Pass.

"There are trails in every direction up there," he said.

A car ride can take you to the very southern entrance of the Mount Zirkel Wilderness, at Summit Lake. From there, Ciel-Tilton explained, you can camp near the road or hike in a few miles to find the ideal location.

"Buffalo Pass is the easiest," local Bill Martorana agreed. "If you don't mind driving on a dirt road."

He also said Rabbit Ears Pass is another obvious spot to hit.

Brock Webster offered Dunckley Pass, which is County Road 16, as a suggestion for those looking to get to the woods quickly.

"There are tons of little hunting camps up there," he said.

C.R. 25 out of Oak Creek and C.R. 15 to C.R. 132, just south of Phippsburg, are two routes to get to Dunckley Pass, which runs about five miles north of the Flat Tops Wilderness. U.S. Forest Service Road 959 connects to C.R. 16 and runs south to Sheriff Reservoir, which is the northern entrance to the wilderness area.

Here are a few more suggestions for a quick trek into the woods, all of which are close to lakes in the Routt National Forest that are possible to make before dark on a Friday:

Mica Lake

It is four miles from the Slovonia trailhead, which is at the end of Seed House Road east of Clark, to Mica Lake. The trail rises about 2,000 feet in elevation and is rated as easy to moderate.

Rainbow Lakes

You have to go to the Walden side of the Routt National Forest to get here. From Walden, get on C.R. 12W, to C.R. 18 to C.R. 22 in other words, buy a map. However, Rainbow Lakes are only about a three-mile hike in and are popular for hiking. But the vast size of them makes for enough solitude for everyone. The next morning, hike to Slide Lakes, Roxy Ann Lake or over to the Continental Divide Trail, where the possibilities are endless.

Lake Katherine and Bighorn Lake

These are also on the Walden side of the Routt National Forest. Just take C.R. 12W all the way into the forest, navigating through the sharp right turns that look like other county roads. It's two miles to Lake Katherine and three miles to Bighorn Lake. The Continental Divide Trail also has easy access for the next day.

Flat Tops Wilderness

Drive up to Stillwater Reservoir, at the end of C.R. 7 out of Yampa, and find a secluded spot. The next day, pick from the numerous trails into the wilderness that lead to Trappers Lake, Causeway Lake and Round Lake.


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