6 Ways to Make the Most of Your Fall in Summit County
Kayaking on Lake Dillon. Photo Credit: Katie Rae Bode (OutThere Colorado Staff).
Fall is a special time of year in Summit County. The air is crisper, the trails are less crowded, and the aspen trees turn a stunning shade of gold that filters the light in incredible ways. From fishing to boating, from scenic drives to hiking through beautiful aspen groves, there are truly endless activities and events for everyone to enjoy. In partnership with the town of Frisco, we’ve put together an awesome guide to help you enjoy your fall in Summit County.
1. Play at the Frisco Bay Marina
Located in picturesque Summit County, the Frisco Bay Marina on Dillon Reservoir is only about an hour west of Denver. At an elevation of 9,017 feet and surrounded by mountains, the views from anywhere on the reservoir are superb. Dillon Reservoir offers 27 miles of shoreline on 3,300 acres and even has several islands to explore. Boating season is best from early June to September when the weather is most predictable and warmer temperatures allow you to stay out longer on the water.
The Frisco Bay Marina is the hub of lake activities on Dillon Reservoir. Not only does the Marina offer canoe, kayak, paddleboard, and powerboat rentals, it also waterside dining at the Island Grill (open Memorial Day through Labor Day weekend) and guided tours and lessons.
The Marina also has a beautiful sandy beach to hang out on; swimming, however, is not allowed in Dillon Reservoir because the water is just a bit too cold for humans. Perfect for fish though! You can rent fishing poles from the Marina or head out on a guided fishing tour of Dillon Reservoir with professional fishing guides. You’re likely to catch Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout, Kokanee Salmon, and Arctic Char in the lake’s chilly waters.
The Marina is the perfect place to spend the day with the kids: when you’re done with your adventures on the water, you can grab your picnic and hangout at Marina Park, complete with a kid’s playground. You can also jump on the Summit Shuttle Water Taxi to cross the lake and explore the Dillon Marina and town.
Reserve your boat rentals from the Frisco Bay Marina more than 24 hours in advance of your trip, and receive a discount!
2. Celebrate the Season at Fall Fest in Frisco, Colorado
On September 8, 2018 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., head to Main Street in downtown Frisco for Fall Fest. Expect live music, a beer garden, local artisan showcase, and Flavors of Frisco. The Flavors of Frisco event will highlight the town’s vibrant restaurant scene with small plates and signature dishes from local chefs. Additionally, proceeds from Fall Fest benefit Friends of the Dillon Ranger District, so your attendance helps to support the surrounding wilderness that you play in.
3. Take Scenic Drives through the Surrounding Mountains
Frisco is the perfect launching point for all of your fall outdoor recreation adventures. If spotting golden aspen trees is your goal, there are three particularly beautiful scenic drives within close proximity to Frisco. The Copper-Leadville-Minturn Loop brings you through historic mining districts and high into the alpine. To get above treeline and onto the Continental Divide, take the Loveland Pass Loop past the Keystone Resort and Arapahoe Basin Ski Area. If you’re looking for a full day driving tour, head towards Independence Pass through Leadville for unparalleled views, a gorgeous drive, and plenty of places to stop and explore along the way.
4. Hike through Golden Aspen Tree Groves
The Rainbow Lake Trail winds through wetlands surrounded by golden aspens and lodgepole pines until you reach this beautiful lake. This hike is 1.5 miles roundtrip.
Trek through thick aspen groves with stunning views of surrounding peaks, Lower Cataract Lake, and Cataract Falls for this 7.2-mile roundtrip hike. Golden leaves and tall grasses all create a picturesque scene as you climb towards the peaceful Eaglesmere Lake.
What this hike lacks in length, it makes up for in elevation gain. In just over one mile, climb 1,250 feet to epic views of Lake Dillon and Frisco and the sprawling autumn landscape in Silverthorne, Dillon, and towards Copper Mountain. Mount Royal stands tall over Frisco’s Main Street, which means you also have point-and-brag rights while enjoying a rewarding hot cider or brew downtown afterwards.
5. Cycle to the Summit of Vail Pass
Spanning 26 miles with 1,500 feet of elevation gain from the Frisco Bay Marina, the ride to the summit of Vail Pass is unparalleled and unforgettable. You’ll follow the paved path past Copper Mountain and up through high alpine terrain to the summit. Expect beautiful views and a challenging ride. For an easier, but equally scenic option, get a shuttle provided by a local bike shop to the Vail Pass summit and then whiz down the pass on your bike, foregoing the climb.
6. Fish on Dillon Reservoir
Dillon Reservoir is one of two places in the entire lower 48 that’s stocked with Arctic Char. They love the cold deep water, so try fishing near the dam for your best shot at these rare beauties. The local waters also boast Kokanee salmon, rainbow trout, and brown trout (which spawn in October).