Saturday, October 5, 2013

Spud Lake

Distance: 3 miles round trip
Elevation: 9,438 ft - 9,824 ft
Elevation Gain: 380 ft
Bathroom at Trailhead: No
Dogs: Off leash
Date Hiked: 26 August, 2013

Quiet Spud Lake
Spud Lake is a small scenic lake between Durango and Silverton Colorado. It is mentioned in the 100 Classic Hikes book as a great place to bring a family. Just note that the family needs to have a high-clearance 4x4 because West Lime Creek Road, which connects Highway 550 to Spud Lake has deteriorated badly. The road is not a technical 4x4, but it is a very rocky one. A sedan would bottom out quickly.

These cliffs appear on West Lime Creek Road just before the Trailhead. That meadow is part of Scout "Lake"
The Lilly Pads on what is left of Scout "Lake"
The two wooden posts marking the trail. You can't see these from the road.
Finding the trailhead to Spud Lake is also tricky. We were coming from the south while looking at a map that flipped north and south and so was expecting the trailhead to be on the right instead of the left. Let me set the record straight. When driving north on West Lime Creek Rd (Forest Road 591), the first clue is Scout Lake on the right-hand side of the road. Be advised...maps makes Scout Lake look much larger than it is. It is really more of a Lilly Pad covered pond quickly turning into a meadow. Just past this milestone (at roughly 3 miles) the road turns to the right and heads up hill. There was an ATV parked at this curve, which gave us a clue. We parked and looked around. There was a social trail heading west and a larger jeep road heading north. 20 yards up the jeep road were two vertical wooden posts sticking out of the road to block traffic. This was the marker in the book that indicated the trail. Still, it was not until we met a backpacker on the way down did we feel comfortable that we had found the right spot. There is no signage at all in the area and it feels pretty remote.

Heading up through Aspens
The trail is not devoid of vistas.
The trail to Spud Lake is not difficult and winds pleasantly through Aspen, interesting rock formations, and past numerous Beaver ponds. I confess I was tired on this trip, however. We had hiked West Lime Creek earlier in the day and I was hot and thirsty by the time we reached the lake. Given the isolation and easy access to the water, I decided to go for a swim. This turned out to be the highlight of the day. Unlike many mountain tarns, Spud Lake is not ice-cold and makes for a thoroughly refreshing dip.

One of the many Beaver ponds that exist on cascading shelves.
This sandy "beach" provides gradual access to the water and may be why the 100 Classic Hikes author thought the lake was ideal for small children. I don't have kids, but I am not sure that is a sufficient draw.
These interesting peaks border the eastern end of the lake.
The lake itself is surround by high cliffs and Fir trees. There are plenty of places to fish and lounge and after the first five minutes had the place to ourselves. If you are in the area, and can get to the trailhead, it would be a nice way to spend an afternoon.

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