Eleven Mile State Park, one of the more remote in the Colorado Parks and Wildlife system, is known mostly for its boating and fishing opportunities on the Eleven Mile Canyon Reservoir that makes up most of the park. You can get a feel for what life is like at the park in this podcast with park manager Darcy Mount.
Off the beaten path, about 11 miles (imagine that...) from the center of Lake George, the park also has a nice, if small, trail system on it's northeast corner near the backcountry campsites. Starting at the Coyote Ridge parking lot, hikers can do the 1.4-mile Coyote Ridge Nature Trail, or opt for the longer loop that combines the Midland, Black Bear and Coyote Ridge trails for a total distance of just a little more than 4 miles.
On my recent visit there, I enjoyed tall stands of aspens that were just completing their fall colors display along the Midland Trail. On the Black Bear Trail, a short spur trail to an overlook provided a nice panorama of the reservoir.
In summer months, during the almost total darkness on moonless nights, the park is a great place for photographers to capture night sky photos of the Milky Way.
There is also an orienteering course so visitors can learn or hone those skills, and after a heavy winter snowfall, the trails are great for cross country skiing or snowshoeing. Cross country skiers can also ski across the reservoir once it's adequately frozen each winter.
How to Get There: From Colorado Springs, take U.S. Highway 24 west to Lake George in Park County. As you pass through town, and just after the post office, turn left onto Park County Road 92. Follow it for approximately 9.75 miles to the turn for Coyote Ridge, just past the little village of Eleven Mile and turn left. Follow the road to the parking lot at the end of the road.
Things you Need to Know: Entry fees do apply. The park is open year-round, with eight campgrounds for RVs, trailers and tents along with 14 backcountry campsites. Some campgrounds do have seasonal closures. Leashed dogs are allowed on the trails. Cell phone service is sparse or non-existent in most of the park. Resources are few, so make sure you bring adequate food, water and other supplies. Eleven Mile State Park and the nearby Eleven Mile Canyon in the Pike National Forest are separate entities and passes from one are not valid at the other. For more information, or questions, contact the park here.
As always, when traveling, check your destination for any COVID-19 restrictions. Don't become an unwanted burden, especially on small towns.
Be Good. Do Good Things. Explore Safely.
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