Stepping out in Routt: The dam hike
August 27, 2011
If you go
Length: 3.6 miles
Surface: Gravel trail
Start: Stagecoach State Park (18 miles from Steamboat, 7 miles from Oak Creek)
Cost: $7 daily park fee
Parking: From Routt County Road 14, turn left at the park entrance and left on C.R. 18. Travel 1.8 miles to the dam parking lot.
Steamboat Springs — Stagecoach Reservoir, built in the 1980s, captures snowmelt and releases it into the Yampa River to provide a year-round water supply for agriculture, municipalities, industry and hydropower generation. In addition to serving as a water storage facility, it is a state park enjoyed by boaters, hunters and hikers. There are more than 7 miles of trails there, including this week's route — an out and back on the Elk Run Trail. Free park maps are available at the entrance station.
Starting from the dam, follow the trail along the eastern flanks of the reservoir. After a short distance, you will cross over the dam. This is an awesome experience when the water is cascading down the overflow outlet in the spring. It's still impressive this time of year to look down the Yampa River side and see the discharge blasting against the canyon wall. Continue across the dam and follow the trail, which rolls up and down the hills. The views across the reservoir are splendid, from the Blacktail Mountain cliffs to the still-visible runs of the short-lived Stagecoach Ski Area. Once you reach the halfway point at the Morrison Cove boat ramp, turn around and return to your car the same way you came. While the winds offer some respite from the heat, there is no shade, so be sure to bring a hat and water.
If you go on longer walks or walk after work, you may feel the need for a snack. Here are some easy-to-pack healthy snacks that are around 100 calories. A typical 2-mile, 40-minute walk burns about 160 calories, so be sure to snack on less calories than you will burn.
1 small banana with 1 tablespoon peanut butter
1 apple, peach or pear
2 cups of popped popcorn and ¼ cup craisins, raisins or banana chips
½ red pepper with 3 tablespoons hummus
8 animal crackers
1 cup fruit (blueberries, cherries, raspberries)
1 piece of string cheese and 2 crackers
1 hard-boiled egg
1 6-ounce container of low-fat yogurt
1 cup applesauce
1 celery stick filled with peanut butter and raisins
Janet Hruby writes Stepping Out in Routt on behalf of LiveWell Northwest Colorado.