Coyote Ridge is a trailhead at Eleven Mile Reservoir that I’ve been meaning to hike for a couple of years now. I’ve started the hike and turned around a couple of times, both times in the winter. The cold at Eleven Mile Reservoir is extreme so one time I turned around for that reason and the other time because I knew that I would not be able to climb the ridge without snowshoes or at least my Ice Trekkers. The logical solution is to explore the trail the first time in summer… but I always seem to have something to do in the summer!
Well yesterday I didn’t have something to do… the osprey have probably already migrated to South America, the eagles have vanished from the Canyon and the deer and elk are nowhere to be found. I’ve seen pelican flying over the canyon on their way to the reservoir but the eagles don’t seem to have that behavior. I’ve seen the eagles fly west around the mountain where their nest is but from there where they go is a mystery. Once we spotted a bald eagle at the reservoir, along with a bunch of other birds hanging around a bag of trash thrown down by a camper, but that is the only time. However I have been suspicious for a long time that the eagles make the wild southeast section of the reservoir closest to the dam their summer home, the only section of the park without vehicle access.
So I arrived early at the park yesterday with the intention of creating a video of this exploration and began the trek around the cove to the rugged ridge on the other side to the east. As I neared the ridge I could finally see where the trail was going to cut through the trees and rocks, up close it became obvious that the trail was a well maintained route facilitated by a set of stairs constructed of logs. I quickly made the steep but easy ascent anticipating a fabulous view on the other side. However the reward did not come immediately, I had to hike probably another half mile where an offshoot onto another outcropping became available.
On the higher ground the trails turn to forest roads for the Park Service, but mountain bike tracks also indicate that these are commonly used trails for bikers, something I’ll have to keep in mind. I would like to explore the entire southeast side someday but the distance is too great for me to want to do it all on foot. Mountain biking the section would be awesome!
Well anyway, I made my way down closer to the shoreline to where the view did open up, allowing me to get some beautiful pictures and survey the entire vista to the west and north. I could see that there are a number of inlets in the wild terrain of the southeast side but I was unable to see the big dam marking the entrance to the stunning Eleven Mile Canyon. I suspect you would have to get right up to it in order to see it, so I wasn’t really expecting to see it from the first outcropping anyway.
After exploring the massive rocks creating this beautiful access to the lake I decided to just sit awhile and see if I might see the raptors flying over the clear blue water in search of the big trout I’ve often observed there. In the stillness of the morning, motion on the big island in the middle of the reservoir had caught
my eye. Pelicans were landing and taking off from there and closer inspection through my big lens revealed a huge population of pelicans and great blue heron making themselves at home. The pelicans were all bunched together close to the east shore while the blue heron were spread out closer to the high ground in the on the north end. None of the birds paid any mind to the kayakers and paddle boarders floating past.
I never did spot any raptors, although some other hikers told me that red-tailed hawks could regularly be seen soaring overhead. Eventually I could feel my skin begin to burn from the blazing Colorado sun so I decided to call it a day, next time I will be sure to remember sunscreen. Although there are many trails up there going in every direction it wasn’t difficult to find the way back… just don’t stray too far from the water and you will eventually be returned to the starting point.
Once again, there is a video associated with this adventure, so I hope you enjoy it! If you do, I hope you will consider subscribing to my channel, you can definitely help it to grow by doing so!
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