Glenwood Springs Day Hike: Savage Lakes

Take a break from the heat with this high country Colorado hike.

 Savage Lakes near Glenwood Springs is, as one trail reviewer writes, perfect for “swimmin’, fishin’ and chillin.’” On a hot summer day, this trail with plenty of shade and two lakes will no doubt refresh your spirit, and if you dare to jump in, you’ll find it even more invigorating!

Located in the Frying Pan River Valley, the scenic drive in itself is worthy of an outing. The river, classified as catch and release Gold Medal Waters has fly fishermen and women hooked. All along the river to the spillway of Ruedi Reservoir enthusiasts spend the day casting for Native Colorado and Rainbow trout.

 To get to the trailhead, you’ll pass the boat launch and campground for Ruedi Reservoir, the Aspen Yacht Club, and the tiny mountain hamlets of Meredith and Thomasville. Take a left at the sign for Savage Lakes Trail and continue to follow the signs for about 7.8 miles. The total time from Glenwood Springs to the trailhead is about 1.5 hours.

The trail follows the creek through pine and conifer forests. Moisture and coolness from the nearby stream acts like natural air conditioning on a hot day which is much appreciated because even though the trail is rated as moderate, it’s still a steady, steep, sweat-inducing climb at the outset.

Along with the staccato of birds, chipmunks, squirrels, and higher up – whistle pigs protecting their domain – the creek provides a soothing soundtrack for most of the way. Though it’s tempting to keep on trekking, take the time to “pull over” to admire a waterfall, do a balance check on a fallen log, or simply take a breather and have a snack.

We reached the first lake in about an hour. The trail flattened out and a meadow, still blooming with wildflowers in August, gave way to a trail that skirted the lake. Huge boulders that appear to have been dropped by a mountain giant apparently make perfect lakeside perches for sunbathing and story time. We caught one mom reading a story aloud to her completely enthralled young boys from the top of one. Empty campsites used by backpackers dot the woods around the lake.

Fracturing the serenity of this postcard pretty scene is a high-pitched girl-scream followed by laughing and a whole lot of splashing. It doesn’t take us long to figure out that someone and their dog has just fully committed to cooling off.

The second lake is just a twenty-minute hike, located on the next topographical bench. The cool thing is that you can see both lakes from a single rocky vantage point. It’s a crescent shaped lake, bordered by pine forests, more campsites and a scree field where the mountain sloughs off into the lake. While staking out a spot for lunch we came across a cache of wild mushrooms and picked a couple of pristine boletus and a half-dozen puff balls to take home. Even though the red-capped amanitas are pretty, we leave those toxic vixens alone.

From our flat rock picnic table, I can see the ripples of fish jumping and closer in I spot a trout trolling the shoreline. We spend the rest of the afternoon chillin’ — for us that means a footbath instead of a full-body dip, cloud spotting, and lots of picture taking.

 Overall, Savage Lakes is one cool hike!

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