Hahns Peak Lake
by K. Christopherson
Hahns Peak Lake, is simply put, a likeable lake. When all else fails, fishing Hahns Peak will almost always earn you some fish and also supply a peaceful and enjoyable outing.
Hahns Peak Lake is located about 30 miles north of Steamboat Springs, Colorado, at an elevation of 8500 feet. It is just north of Steamboat Lake State Park. It's about 100 surface acres, and very manageable from shore or wakeless craft (hand-propelled or electric motor only). Float tubes and canoes are especially useful for this lake which holds rainbow and cutthroat trout.
A reasonable trail circles the entire lake. Fishing from shore is quite possible whether you are spin or fly casting. The lake has also seen some recent upgrades by Trout Unlimited to provide a handicap-accesible trail and a fishing pier on the northwest side near the campground. The lake is stocked by CPW a couple of times during the summer, but also has a natural reproductive population. Perhaps because of the stocking, or the cold winters this area bears, most of the fish are medium-sized, around 10-12".
The fish here can be in the deeper water, but do not neglect the shallows - often they are better than deep water, near the shore, in the water grasses - look for fish cruising parallel to shore.
Hahns Peak Lake is mostly a summer lake because of the winter's heavy snowfall. The campground opens and closes depending on when snow has subsided and roads have closed.
There are two access points by road (see directions below). The southern end has a parking area, picnic tables, and toilets. It is possible to carry a craft down to the lake. However, the nothern access point has a 'boat launch' where you can drive up to the lake's edge to unload your craft. At the northern access there is also day parking, toilets, picnic table, and a campground.
How to get there?Drive north from Steamboat on Road 129. This leaves US Hwy 40 on the west side of Steamboat Springs (near the 7-11). Go about 28 miles north and turn west on Forest Road 485 for the southern day use area. Or travel about 0.5 miles further on Road 129, turn west on Forest Road 486 to the campground and northern day use area. TIP: The northern day use area (by the campground) is much easier for launching a boat, and quieter. FEES: There is a daily usage fee of $5 (2016) - possible discounts for seniors, etc.
Things to know and do:
- Hahn's Peak (a triangular-shaped mountain northwest of the lake) was a center for gold mining in the 1860's. Joseph Hahn spent only a couple of years here, dying after a hard winter. There are several remains of the old mining towns around the base of Hahn's Peak.
- There are lots of other areas to fish - the Elk River, many mountain creeks, Pearl Lake and Steamboat Lake (state parks).
- The Steamboat Lake Visitors' Center has lots of info and is only about 3 miles away. The Steamboat Lake Marina sells basic supplies and fishing licenses.
- Activities in the area include fishing (of course), hiking, swimming, paddle boarding, horse-back riding, and exploring the many roads and trails in the area by bicycle, dirt bike, .
- Read about Steamboat Lake
State regulations and limits.
Where to stay?
There is campground at the west end of the park (US Forest Service - click here for info). About half of the sites are reservable. No power, but nice sites. Dispersed camping is nearby on forest lands, and a few other campgrounds are in the neighboring area (including Steamboat Lake State Park). Cabin accommodations can be found in Clark, Hahns Peak Village and Columbine.
- Click here to buy a National Geographic topographic/recreation map for this area. You need map 116.
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