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Monday, July 6, 2009

Weekend Canoe Trip

As a kid, we'd do a canoe trip almost every year. Sometimes it was to Middle Piney Lake in Wyoming, but usually it was to the Green River Lakes. We'd load up our camping gear and canoes then meet up with a few uncles and cousins and head out. At the lakes, we'd canoe across the lake, pull the canoes up the river, canoe across the upper lake, and then set up camp. Half of the fun was planning the trip and the building anticipation that came as the trip got closer. Another huge part was just getting there; the drive, canoeing, and the adventures we'd have on the way. Once camp was set up, we'd have a whole week to fish, explore, canoe, hike, roll rocks down cliffs, and just have a grand old time! It was always a sad day when we'd pack up and return home. On the drive home we'd talk about the good times we had and start anticipating the next trip. With so many fine memories, a canoe trip was definitely something I wanted to do with Ashley.

Upon moving to Colorado last summer, I started looking for places a canoe trip would work. I also started looking for a canoe to borrow. I had no luck finding a canoe, but did find a place we could have a great canoe trip. The Big Creek Lakes were about 2 hours away and had 2 lakes connected by a creek that was navigable. We weren't able to make the trip last year, but when some friends called up and mentioned going we jumped on the opportunity. Unfortunately due to some unforeseen circumstances including rainy weather and a burned foot, we were the only ones who ended up going.

We left Fort Collins at 8 on Friday, and arrived at the lake at 11. The rain was threatening, but we decided that rain or shine, we were going to carry on. We unloaded the canoe, put our camping gear inside, all carefully wrapped in garbage bags to keep everything dry. After putting on our lifejackets and ponchos, we shoved off for the opposite shore.

We paddled and paddled. The rain lightly drifted down on us. After a while we saw the inlet. We pulled ashore and looked at the river. Ultimately we decided just to camp there, and to explore the river and upper lake later. We set up camp at a great location and got a fire going. After relaxing a while and having dinner, the weather cleared up a bit and we decided to go explore.

Getting to the upper lake took two short portages. For the first one I carried the canoe about a hundred yards through the woods. Then we put the canoe in the creek and somewhat paddled and somewhat shoved our way upstream. Right below the second lake there was a logjam in the creek, so we got out of the canoe and pulled it over the logjam.

On the creek between the lakes.

Upper Big Creek Lake is a lot more scenic than the lower lake is. The mountains are closer and more impressive and since it is less accessible than the lower lake, it is a lot more serene. We paddled around and fished a little bit.

We beached the canoe at the top of the second lake and went on a short hike to see the waterfall. Big Creek Falls is a pretty impressive cascade, but it is challenging to photograph. Because this year has been so wet there were TONS of mosquitoes all along the trail just waiting for two tasty looking hikers to snack on. We kept moving.
Because the sun was getting low, we returned to camp. Ash accidentally burned her jacket and almost one of the paddles.


Near camp was a 2-seater outhouse. We thought it would be useful for the times that you've both just gotta go.

After a mellow evening in camp, we retired to our tent. Shining the lights around, we saw lots of mosquitoes wanting to come inside with us. The next morning they were still waiting.

We made breakfast in our dutch oven. Oh yeah! What a perfect way to start the Independence Day. We piddled around a bit longer, then seeing the clouds darkening again, we decided to pick up camp and return home. What a great trip it was!
Nearest City:
GPS Coordinates:
Time Needed: 2 days
Difficulty: Moderate
Kid Friendly: Yes
Additional Info:


  1. Wow, sounds like you guys had a great trip! Ash, you are really starting to look pregnant, I'm way excited for you guys.

  2. How fun! Ashley, you are a trooper.