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Horsetooth Reservoir

2002 paddling

before 2001 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | 2004

August 11, 2002. Horsetooth Reservoir has been drained to about 5% of the its full capacity. All boat ramps are closed. No motor boats! Boat permit fees for canoes and kayaks are waived until ramps open again in spring 2003 (vehicle/entrance permits are still required).

The reservoir consists again of three ponds connected by two narrow channels with swift current and some whitewater. The access is only from South Bay. There are some rocks at the end of the north boat ramp, so it is possible to launch a boat without sinking in mud.

Green vegetation has covered a lot of the old lake bottom. Some of the stone posts, I photographed last fall, colapsed. The old rusty boat is still laying high on the shore and desintegrating.

Horsetooth Reservoir Horsetooth Reservoir
Horsetooth Reservoir Horsetooth Reservoir
Horsetooth Reservoir Horsetooth Reservoir


August 20, 2002. A little bit higher water level than during my previous trip. According to Bureau of Reclamation data the Horsetooth Reservoir was at 6.3% of its capacity.
It translated to 1-2" higher water level at the South Bay launch, enough water to run smoothly down the whitewater at the end of the southern channel and no big breaking waves at the end of the northern channel.

Horsetooth Reservoir
Horsetooth Reservoir
Horsetooth Reservoir Horsetooth Reservoir

August 31, 2002. An afternoon trip with Eric Hermann. The water level in the southern pool went down a couple of inches since my last visit. According to the Bureau of Reclamation website: pool elevation was 5308.5 feet (next to Horsetooth dam?), reservoir active conservation pool was 5.8% full.

The left picture below presents nicely the current configuration of the reservoir looking from South Bay towards north. The launching point is just on the left. At the mouth of Inlet Bay threre is a small island. A narrow channel with a swift current connects the southern pool with the central one. This channel ends up with some white water and small rapids. The next longer channel leads to the northern pool (barely visible in the photo just below the Horsetooth Dam).

Horsetooth Reservoir Eric Hermann

September 07, 2002. The water level in the southern pool went up about 2 feet due to the increased inflow. Official data: pool elevation - 5310.8 feet, reservoir active conservation pool - 6.5% full. The white water at the end of the first channel was great. I spent all time there playing with my Sea Wind canoe and shooting video clips:
56kb/s movie | 700kb/s movie.

Another video clip is available from the evening paddle on the Boyd Lake.
Horsetooth rapids Horsetooth rapids

September 10, 2002. More water in the reservoir: pool elevation 5314.4 feet, 8.2% full. The water level in the southern pool went down about 1 foot and the levels of central and northern pools went up. The white water at the end of the first channel was almost gone, but it was still too fast and too shallow to paddle upstream. A smooth water in the second channel.

September 20, 2002. Pool elevation 5314.4 feet, 7.9% full. The water level in the southern pool went further down and it was the lowest during my 2002 year paddling. The central pool stayed approximately at the same level. The first channel was very shallow, mostly, not deeper than 1 foot making difficult to use a canoe paddle. The rapids were no longer runable. Some channels in clay were waist deep in some places but too narrow for a boat. The picture on right shows the building remains at the mouth of Dixon Cove.
Horsetooth rapids Dixon Cove

October, 2002. The inflow to the reservoir is minimal, therefore, the southern pool is very low. There is not enough water in the first channel to float even a tumbleweed and the end of this channel is very muddy making it nearly impossible to portage a boat to the central pool.
Horsetooth Reservoir Oct 2002 Horsetooth Reservoir Oct 2002
Horsetooth Reservoir from Stout Trail Horsetooth Reservoir from Timberline Trail
The central and northern pools have quite a lot of water as it is visible from Stout Trail in Horsetooth Mountain Park (above left) and from Timberline Trail in Lory State Park (above right). However, there is no practical access to the northern part of the lake. More pictures of Horsetooth Reservoir in my mountain biking pages.
November 17, 2002. The water level in Horsetooth is slowly rising: current pool elevation - 5317.5 feet, reservoir active conservation pool - 8.5% full. If not a recent shoulder surgery I would be paddling. Instead, I hiked the Maxwell trail and shot some panoramic pictures from the Centennial Road.

The picture below presented in PtViewer is stitched together from 11 single pictures shot in a portrait format. It covers slightly more than 180 degrees. The Arthurs Rock is in the middle of the picture (looking west). The main body of water is a central pool next to the Dixon Dam. There is definitely some water in the southern channel. The second channel visible just below the Arthurs Rock is leading to the northern pool next to the Horsetooth Dam. Further on the right you can find my hiking partner, Dax, the Newfounland, and my shadow selfportrait.

Horsetooth Reservoir panorama #1>

a larger version in Panorama Gallery

November 27, 2002. The water level in Horsetooth is still rising: current pool elevation - 5320 feet, reservoir active conservation pool - 9.5% full. Plenty of water for paddling. The rapids in the end of the southern channel are now covered by water of the central pool. The inflow to the reservoir was about 70cfs.

The panoramic picture below was shot at the mouth of the inlet bay with the Dixon Dam in the middle. It covers about 270 degrees.

Horsetooth Reservoir panorama #2

a larger version in Panorama Gallery


Horsetooth Reservoir December 24, 2002.
Horsetooth Reservoir by mountain bike via Pineridge and Maxwell trails. The water level is still rising: current pool elevation - 5325 feet, reservoir active conservation pool - 11.2% full, so the water level is similar as it was in July. The reservoir is covered by ice with some patches of open water.


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before 2001 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | 2004


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