Darby's Top Reasons to love this hike:
1) The Brush Creek trail head starts either at the Sylvan Lake Ranger Station (Meadow's Day Use), or at the campsite and connects 5 miles of easy, well marked, hiking trails. There are several stops along the way if you wanted to do a shorter hike or just explore the seldom seen part of the park. Or be adventurous and take the day and do the whole trail - 5 miles. The entire park sits in the White River National Forest, in the Vail Valley.
2) Take a 1.5 mile hike around Sylvan Lake for gorgeous views of the Lake and surrounding peaks. Stop and fish in the lake known for its trout. Sylvan Lake is said to be the prettiest lake in Colorado, and we camped at the Sylvan Lake State Park Campground.
3) Water everywhere! In the lake, on the creek, all spring fed and crystal clear (delicious) water. Even the nearest peak was snow-capped.
4) Best valley views rival any in Colorado or the rest of the country (so I'm told). Green meadows, mountainous backdrops, protected old farm houses. Lots of previous rain and snow helped the greens look greener.
5) From fields to tree coverage there is lots of foliage and wildflowers. We even saw a wildflower group cataloging their finds. We observed hawks, eagles, bank swallows, Stellar's jay, mockingbirds, blue heron, and more.
6) Near-by hikes we didn't get to try because even in lat May, they were still snowy: Sneve Gulch, McKenzie Gulch, Nolan Lake, Lake Charles and Ironedge are all good options if you want a more moderate level hiking experience.
Round Trip Length around Sylvan Lake: 1.5 miles
One Way Brush Creek Trail up to 5 miles (trail is still being built and will connect in the middle by fall 2013)
Start and End Elevation: not much
Skill Level: Easy
Pet Regulations: Dogs must be on leash
Weather: Late May to first snow. In the winter, the park is open for snow shoeing.
Restroom: Ranger Station, Meadows Day Use and the Sylvan Lake State Park.
Picnic tables: yes, same as above
More reservations or more information about Sylvan Lake State Park click here
Directions: From I-70, Exit 147 Eagle. Go south through town and follow signs to Sylvan Lake. Take a right on Brush Creek road (south) and travel 10 miles to the visitors center. You can get your day passes here ($7). Park and start your hike, or continue to the lake. Follow the fork to the right for another 5 miles on an unpaved road. Stop along the road at the markers and hike parts of the trail or continue to the lake.