Clinton Gulch Dam Reservoir – An Easy Scenic Hike

By: Ashley Vitiello | Last Updated on May 2, 2024

Clinton Gulch Dam Reservoir is a man-made lake just south of Leadville and north of Copper Mountain on State Highway 91, near the popular Mayflower Gulch hike. There’s a trail that goes around its entire circumference, creating a 2.4 mile loop that is perfect for a beautiful hike in the Rocky Mountains. This trail is a great option for beginners, casual hikers, or even families.

Trail Info

Distance: 2.4 miles
Elevation Gain: 230 feet
Difficulty: easy
Features: lake, mountain views, wildflowers
Facilities: none
Phone Service: none

clinton gulch dam reservoir

Hiking Clinton Gulch Dam Reservior

This hike around Clinton Gulch Dam Reservoir is straight forward and simple. It’s relatively flat, especially compared to most mountain hikes. With only 230 feet of elevation gain spread across 2.4 miles, this hike is easy. The trail is quite thin though, so don’t plan on walking next to someone. Single file is basically required. Just follow the trail all the way around the lake, returning to your car after your outdoor adventure. The northern side of the loop is more exposed and the brush is mainly willows, while the southern side of the loop is forested and offers many wildflowers, mushrooms, and mini streams flowing into the lake. On the far end of the lake (east), you’ll encounter a wide open meadow and an easy stream crossing – this is where some of the best views of the hike are.

History

Clinton Gulch Dam Reservoir is named after the nearby 13,864-foot Clinton Peak, which serves as the headwaters for Clinton Creek. In 1977, the dam was constructed by the Climax Molybdenum Company with the intention of assisting in mining operations. The reservoir was sold in 1992 to the Clinton Ditch & Reservoir Company, whose stakeholders include a few Summit County towns and ski resorts. A portion of the water is now used to create artificial snow on some ski slopes each winter.

Getting There

From highway I-70, take exit 195 towards Copper Mountain then continue south on State Highway 91 (a.k.a. Top of the Rockies Scenic Byway). Continue for about 7 miles and you’ll arrive at Clinton Gulch Dam Reservoir. There’s parking on either side of the dam, so don’t worry if you miss the first parking lot – there’s a second one soon after. Park in either area. Because this hike is a loop, it doesn’t matter where you start or which direction you begin.

clinton gulch dam reservoir wildflowers

Fishing at the Reservoir

During our hike, we saw several fishermen posted up along the shoreline with lines in the water. Fishing is permitted here with a Colorado state fishing license (required for ages 16+) and ice fishing is permitted in the wintertime. The lake is stocked with cutthroat trout, and there’s a wild population of Rainbow and Brown trout.

The Verdict

With all that being said, don’t let it’s simplicity fool you; the views are beautiful and the lake sparkles in the sunlight of a warm summer day. We would highly recommend this hike for anyone looking for an easier adventure or for families. Because of it’s elevation right around 11,000 feet, it’s also a great option for those looking to get outside while also acclimating to the altitude.

clinton gulch dam reservoir wildflowers

FAQ

Where is Clinton Gulch Dam Reservoir?

Clinton Gulch Dam Reservoir is situated between Copper Mountain and Leadville, along the Top of the Rockies Scenic Byway (a.k.a. State Highway 91). It’s easily accessible from two parking areas on either side of the dam, and is surrounded by a 2.4 mile easy hiking trail.

What is the altitude of Clinton Gulch Dam Reservoir?

The reservoir sits at just above 11,000 feet, right around 11,050. The trail around the lake ranges from 11,076 to 11,161 feet in elevation.

Can you fish at Clinton Gulch Dam Reservoir?

Yes! With a valid Colorado state fishing license (for ages 16+), you can fish in the reservoir year-round for Cutthroat Trout, Rainbow Trout, and Brown Trout.

Share on Social Media

Why Trust Know Nothing Nomads?

Since 2017, Know Nothing Nomads has cemented itself as the “approachable experts” in everything camping, hiking, climbing, and adventuring in the Great Outdoors.

With over 60 years of experience in the outdoors, we don’t just talk about outdoor gear or recommend a good hiking trail.

We USE the gear we talk about. We’ve hiked 1000’s of miles. We have camped 1000’s of nights in the wilderness. We have sent hundreds of boulders and projects.

We don’t just know a few things about the outdoors — WE EAT, SLEEP, AND BREATHE IT.

We are not journalists from a magazine telling someone else’s stories from behind a computer. We are the ACTUAL outdoorsmen that those people write about. 

We are not a “gear lab” that runs tests on gear in life-like conditions. We are the seasoned, “trial-by-fire” experts who have taken the gear into the wilderness and USED IT. Read about our gear testing process here

We started Know Nothing Nomads to share our passion and expertise with our readers to inspire, educate, and enable you to explore the outdoors in the way that we have. And you will be more equipped and capable than ever before with the knowledge you gain here guiding you along the way.

And the best part? We are real people that LOVE our readers and this community. If you need anything or have a question about any of the things we have to write about, just reach out. Normally, one of us can respond within 24 hours, sometimes within minutes. THAT is the approachable expert.

You should also know that advertising does not influence our gear reviews in any way, shape, or form, and it never will.

While we always focus our attention on gear that stands out to us—sometimes we discover that things aren’t up to our standards. This is exactly why we will always talk about the downfalls and compromises that we find while we are testing anything (If we find any).

About The Author

Ashley is an adventurous soul who loves all things nature, especially warm sunshine, wildflowers, scenic snacking, and mushrooms. She is an avid outdoor enthusiast who has spent years enjoying time outside doing things like hiking, camping, and rock climbing.
Her goal with Know Nothing Nomads is to make these hobbies easily accessible through knowledgeable content and how-to's based on all the stuff she's learned on her journey. If she isn't writing an article, she's probably in a forest looking at big mountain views and tiny pieces of moss on the side of the trail.

Related Posts

Hey there!

We are Derek and Ashley of Know Nothing Nomads. Whether it is hiking, camping, or just generally being outside, we love it. We are so happy that you have found our little blog and hope that you stick around a while. Feel free to contact us with any questions or get in touch with us on social media!

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Know Nothing Nomads