It was a good thing that we had started Saturday morning off with a breakfast burrito, banana bread and espresso, as we would need the fuel to complete the days adventure that lied ahead: kayaking Lake Granby to the headwaters of the Colorado River, another first adventure. After sneaking off to swim Aspen in Shadow Mountain Lake, we headed to Lake Granby. The weather was perfect with little to no wind and nary a cloud in the bright blue sky. What a great day to be on the water!
There are two options for launching your kayak into Lake Granby: you can put in at the Stillwater Campground Launch or the Sunset Point Campground Launch. However, there are several more primitive options dotted along the shoreline for entry into the lake. Launching from Stillwater Campground makes the journey about two miles longer in distance. However, with its many islands and nearby shoreline, it provides greater protection if the weather were to change unexpectedly, which is very common on Lake Granby.
Once in the water, we paddled directly toward the southern end of Elephant Island and onto the northern shore of Harvey Island. This was our first real foray into open water kayaking, as we typically paddle near shore; however, with the weather conditions so favorable, we made a go of it. From the northern shore of Harvey Island, we began turning our attention to the entrance of Grand Bay.
Entering Grand Bay, you quickly notice the hillside to the west, Green Ridge, is mainly barren and covered with sagebrush. The eastern shore is tree covered and vibrant. Paddling north, we reached Columbine Bay, which becomes a no wake zone and much friendlier to those under human power. Both shores of the water valley were covered with trees as the bay narrows.
We continued paddling north, with the mountains resonating towards the heavens on either side of the shoreline. Journey’s end, we had gone as far as we are able to paddle, reaching the headwaters of the Colorado River. This is the outflow from Shadow Mountain Lake. The true origin of the headwaters start deep inside Rocky Mountain National Park and flow into Shadow Mountain Lake. We sat for a while observing the magic of nature as the river tumbled over a rocky riverbed into Columbine Bay.
Our voyage north from Grand Bay was breathtaking, short of dodging the proverbial speed boat and other nefarious watercraft. Reversing course, we began our journey back to Harvey Island, paddling south along the eastern shore, which parallels the southern end of Rocky Mountain National Park. Unlike the western shoreline, the eastern shore provides many more areas for one to spend time ashore while taking a break from a day on the water. One could, if they choose, hike from the East Shore Trailhead along the East Shore Trial until it intersects with the Knight Ridge Trail about midway in Grand Bay.
From start to finish, we paddled 12.98 miles. Another fantastic day on the water.