The Big Meadows Reservoir Area


Note to readers: This file dates from 2006. The Forest Service Campground at Big Meadow Reservoir is currently CLOSED for removal of dead trees, restoration of the water system, and other modifications, and will remain so until some time in 2012.


The Big Meadows Reservoir is a manmade lake located about halfway between South Fork, Colorado, and the summit of Wolf Creek Pass on U.S. Highway 160 in Southern Colorado. Itís a pretty lake, with a 54-site campground next to it. Itís popular with fisherman, as is Shaw Lake, which is up Forest Road 430 about 2 miles.



The campground is located in a sub-alpine area, and gets more rainfall than occurs on the other side of the lake. Because of that, aspens and wildflowers grow right in the campground, and deer feed regularly in there, at least when itís not hunting season. The campground offers pit toilets and water points, but no electrical or sewer hookups. Current price is $14 per day.



The picture above was taken right in the campground in the early morning light.


While we were there, we took several dayhikes. The first was out of the parking lot near Hunterís Lake. The hike is a good conditioning hike, only 4.5 miles with a total elevation/loss of 650 feet or so. Hiking Coloradoís Weminuche & South San Juan Wilderness Areas by Donna Ikenberry is a good reference for this area.


The hike starts at a marked trail head, and only a half-mile down the trail is Hunterís Lake, which looks like this:



The trail goes past the lake, then ascends up to and through a pretty meadow, which looks like this:



The trail ascends up to the Highland Trail. The view below was taken from there, while at nearly 12,000 feet while completing the loop back toward the trailhead.



Later during our stay at Big Reservoir, we hiked about 4.2 miles up the Archuleta Creek basin. That 8+ mile roundtrip included 2400 feet of elevation gain and loss. The creek is lovely. The picture below is of some Columbines, the state flower of Colorado.



The moss on the right in the picture below really is orange.



Another day, Lisa and I walked along about three and a half miles of the Continental Divide Trail, starting north from the Lobo Overlook about 2.5 miles off the highway from the summit of Wolf Creek Pass. We started and finished early, to avoid the thunderstorms which frequently occur at high altitudes this time of the year. We have sat at thunderstorms before at those altitudes, which firmly implanted in us a desire not to repeat the experience.


Our last hike in the area was up the Hope Creek trail to itís junction with the Highland trail. That hike, an eleven mile round trip with 3600 feet of elevation loss, took us through some magnificent scenery we had been through some years ago on a longer loop hike.


We ate lunch at the top, and took some pictures. Below is a primrose growing by a lovely creek.



This is another scene along the same creek.



We finished the round trip, and extracted cold beers from the cooler in the car, just as the thunderstorms which has been chasing us down the mountain caught up with us. We sat there relishing the cold drinks, and being thankful that we werenít still up on the top of the mountain in the hail which was falling. The hail, although small, covered the ground back at the campground sufficiently that it look like it had snowed in places.


We celebrated Independence Day with a huge steak dinner, and headed back to town the following day to empty our holding tanks and restock the trailer. It was a lovely way to spend the first week in July.


© 2006 by Linden B. Sisk. All rights reserved.


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