August is the perfect time to visit a reservoir less traveled than the ones commonly known and loved in Colorado. This body of water is close enough to civilization, yet far enough that cell service is sparse. It’s a location that envelopes any nature lover in full, green aspens and pines, clean mountain air, and refreshing waters from last winter’s runoff.
Skaguay Reservoir is a 114-acre lake located on CR 861, about 20 minutes outside of Victor, Colorado. Although it is smaller than other larger reservoirs more visited, the scenery is unmatched. In the distance, the majesty of Pikes Peak reigns true, and with an even closer look, the zig-zagged lines leading up to the summit make a light cut in the mountainside.
Just beneath that peak is an alluring blue lake reflecting the blue skies above begging people to come and play in its waters. Visiting this area in August, it was surprising more people don’t spend their days here for a little rest and relaxation. Getting to Skaguay Reservoir was an easy dirt road drive and no high-clearance vehicle is necessary to see the sights.
Skaguay Reservoir is protected and maintained by Colorado Parks and Wildlife. The word “Skaguay” comes from the native Alaskan meaning “windy place” although this lake doesn’t seem windy at all.
From the 1880s – 1890s, during the Klondike Gold Rush, Skagway, Alaska was the name of the place where miners would disembark from their ships to make their way to the Yukon trail. It’s possible an Alaskan Miner named this Colorado body of water Skaguay Reservoir when they arrived here during the Cripple Creek and Victor Gold Rush in the 1890s.
After rediscovering the reservoir for myself there were days I dreamt of putting a kayak on the water, slowly paddling out into the middle and casting a line in hopes of catching a better than average rainbow. Skaguay being a small reservoir makes venturing out in a kayak a little less intimidating. I could even take quick glances at the few fly anglers on the shore making their catches to keep my motivation high.
Since I don’t own a kayak, hiking around the lake was the next option. A two-mile trek alongside the reservoir took me to back of the wide valley where a small open meadow lay quiet. Along the route, there’s a variety of purple, pink, white, and yellow wildflowers adding a pop of color to the landscape. The trail is pretty simple and relaxed as long as you’re wearing a good pair of hiking shoes.
From the meadow, I could observe water foul wandering around the shore of the lake looking for a place to lie in the sun rays or swim while a small herd of cows passes by for a quick drink. Joining the ducks and geese on the shore to breathe, appreciate your life, and take in the world around you is highly recommended.
This leisurely hike was nothing compared to the 10-mile roundtrip hike to Skaguay Powerplant, which goes in the opposite direction past Beaver Creek Dam. That was the hike I originally intended to go on but got turned around.
It’s known that the trail ventures into the true wilderness, where the terrain is rougher, the trail is longer, and a mountain lion or two is lurking in the trees. Many will take the hike down along Beaver Creek for a day trip or they’ll set up camp for a few days. Going into that part of the wild in large groups makes the most sense when mountain lions are present.
Hiking back from the meadow, a single speed boat sat still in the lake, and a man across the way was setting up his primitive camp space for the evening. Anyone can hike to a spot around the reservoir to set up camp and hide away in serenity. Maybe then there’s a chance of spotting a yellow-bellied marmot, bighorn sheep, a herd of cows, or elk. Those feeling a little less adventurous opted to stay in campsites near the parking lot instead.
Visiting Skaguay Reservoir only costs the time it takes to travel there, but it will be well worth it in the end.