If you thought summers were beautiful in Lake City, wait until you see what winter has in store. Covered under a blanket of white for four months, Hinsdale County is a winter playground for all. Motels, restaurants, and stores are open year round and often offer reduced rates during snow months. Less expensive places to stay, great food, beautiful weather, and lots of outdoor activities: what other incentive do you need?
Hinsdale County has over 100 miles of multipurpose groomed trails that weave through the expansive area between Lake City and Creede. Snowmobilers have a number of starting points, including Spring Creek Pass, Slumgullion Pass and Penniston Park, all just off Highway 149. The trail system offers a variety of settings, which include meandering through forests, straight shots across plateaus, wide trails that traverse mountainsides, and trails to the tops of mountains and spectacular views of the San Juans. Trail conditions and maps of the trail system are available from Lake City Continental Divide Snowmobile Club.
Other ways to enjoy Hinsdale’s groomed trails and burn a few calories while you’re at it are by cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Ski or snowshoe for just an hour or travel off-trail to one of the Haute Route yurts. Those interested in trying one of these winter sports for the first time can rent gear from outfitters in town.
Hinsdale Haute Route
One of the crown jewels of Lake City and Hinsdale County is the Hinsdale Haute Route, a system of four yurts. While using Colorado’s highest hut route, skiers and snowshoers feel “on top of the world” as they enjoy the peaceful luxury of their fully-stocked yurts. Each yurt is carpeted and insulated, has a wooden deck, woodstove, firewood, propane cookstoves, cooking utensils, a sink, table, chairs, beds, cots, and foam sleeping pads. The yurts are great stopping points for avid winter-enthusiast skiers looking for a new adventure. Each yurt sleeps six to eight people, and guide services are available. For more information on the Hinsdale Haute Route visit www.hinsdalehauteroute.org.
Just a few blocks from historic downtown is Lake City’s ice park. The park is open from December to March, weather permitting. The climbs are free and never crowded and offer up to 15 different routes of varying difficulties. Climbers should check in and sign waivers at participating businesses. Interested ice climbers should check out the Ice Climbing Festival that takes place each February.
For the price of one lift ticket at a resort, you and nine of your friends could spend a day at the Lake City Ski Hill. Our Ski Hill is home to four runs of varying difficulty and a platter lift that transports 10 riders at a time. For those skiers and snowboarders looking for a place to practice tricks and jumps, the terrain park has 10 components, including fun boxes and a rainbow. The lift ticket price includes rental of skis or a snowboard as well as some other gear. The Ski Hill is a great place for beginners to gain confidence on the slopes and is both family and kid-friendly. The hill is open Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays throughout the winter as long as the snow keeps falling. For more information, contact the Lake City Area Recreation Department at 970-944-2333 or their website.
Part of the Lake City Town Park is transformed each winter into an ice rink for all to enjoy. The rink is never crowded and great for families or those who want to skate leisurely while enjoying the scenery. The rink is in operation from December to March and skates can be rented from businesses in town.
Stream fishing is very limited to nonexistent in the Lake City area in the winter, as ice covers most of the flowing water by late November. Ice fishing on Lake San Cristobal, however, is popular by those who either brave the elements outside or from the amazing comfort of a fishing hut on the ice. Fishing with bait and jigging are common Lake San Cristobal ice fishing tactics that result in many smaller lake trout being caught, and occasionally one too large to fit through the hole! Join us every February for that Ice Fishing Derby!