The great outdoors

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Lakes and rivers

Moffat County offers world-class fishing at its many lakes and rivers.

Fishing hot spots in Northwest Colorado include:

Yampa River -- The section of the river between Empire Energy and Hayden is a haven for northern pike. Smallmouth bass are commonly caught between Craig and Maybell, and from Yampa Valley Golf Course to the railroad bridge in Craig, a wide variety of fish can be caught, including northern pike, smallmouth bass and trout.

Green River -- In the Browns Park area, large catfish, as well as brown and rainbow trout are prevalent.

Loudy-Simpson Park -- The pond near the entrance to the park south of Craig is a great place for children and families to fish for trout.

Freeman Reservoir -- Located in Routt National Forest about 20 miles north of Craig, Freeman Reservoir is a secluded fishing destination loaded with cutthroat trout.

Public Safety Center Pond -- Stocked with trout by the Colorado Division of Wildlife in April, this pond in Craig is open to youths 12 and younger.

Float your boat

There are several spots to start a rafting trip in and around Craig. Yampa Valley Golf Course, south of Craig off Colorado Highway 394, has an access point. Follow the signs past the airport to reach the drop-off area.

Loudy-Simpson Park on Colo. 394 has a developed boat launch/parking area on the river.

The Yampa Project pump station near the Colorado Highway 13 bridge south of Craig is heavily used by fishers and is preferred by them as a drop-off. Follow the signs south of the bridge down to the pump station.

Another spot to get the boat wet is the Government Bridge on Moffat County Road 17, 47 miles downriver from the golf course west of Craig. To take out, one must do so within the county road right-of-way, about 15 feet from the bridge, to avoid trespassing on private property.

Although most of the river is Class 1, Nick Kamzlow, owner of Outdoor Connections in Craig, warned about the high water season.

"In early May and June the water is high and fast," he said. "It creates a lot of undertows and surprises, so you can't just goof around all the time."

The Green River in western Moffat County runs through Dinosaur and Browns Park and provides more opportunity for a white-water rafting experience. The river cuts through the scenic Lodore and Yampa canyons. There are outfitters in Utah, Wyoming, Colorado and California who are certified to float the Green River. Float trips usually last several days.

The DOW suggests that boat occupants wear life jackets, have a partner at all times and know how to swim.

Desert, mountain trails

There are hundreds of miles of trails for hikers and bikers throughout Moffat County. Trails range from short and smooth for beginners and young riders to steep and rocky courses for more experienced outdoor enthusiasts.

Within 10 miles of Craig there are several shorter trails for an afternoon trip. The Loudy-Simpson Park in Craig has a nature trail that follows the Yampa River in a five-mile loop.

Located seven miles northwest of Craig is Cedar Mountain with a trail that reaches 7,524 feet. It is an easily accessible picnic and nature trail for hiking and biking that loops around the mountain for 3.5 miles. Wildlife frequently seen on Cedar Mountain includes mule deer, pronghorn antelope and many species of birds. There are 800 acres of Bureau of Land Management land at Cedar Mountain.

In northern Craig, the Sandrocks trail oversees most of the town and can be entered from the west near Moffat County High School on Finley Lane or from the east on Barclay Street.

Another trail slated to run through Craig after its completion is the Yampa Valley Trail. Sections from Steamboat Springs to Craig are still under construction with most of the existing trail near Maybell and Dinosaur.

There are several access points for the trail. The southernmost entrance point is west of the Colowyo Coal Co. on Colorado Highway 13 south of Craig. A northern entrance is 30 miles west of Craig on U.S. Highway 40. Continue 1.5 miles west on U.S. 40 to the top of the first hill outside Maybell and turn right at the green steel gate. The trail begins there.

Another access point to more than 12 miles of continuous single track can be found along Deerlodge Park Road. The turnoff for the road is 20 miles west of Maybell and is marked. Follow Deerlodge Road for 3.5 miles to the Cross Mountain Turnout where parking is available and the trail leaves the Deerlodge Road heading west 200 yards before Cross Mountain road.

This part of the trail, called Twelvemile Mesa, is a favorite of Jerry Downing, a local mountain biker.

"It's just a nice ride," he said. "It's scenic and challenging, and it is one of the more visible parts of the Yampa Valley Trail."

There are maps of the trail available at J & R Cyclery, as well as the Craig Chamber of Commerce and the Bureau of Land Management.

Downing said that because most of the trails in Moffat County are secluded, riders or hikers need to make sure they are prepared with water and the proper safety gear. He said bikers also need to make sure to bring extra tubes and a tire patch kit.

Other enjoyable trails in Moffat County include Douglas Mountain Boulevard, Moffat County Road 116 near Browns Park, the Routt National Forest Bears Ears Trail, which is marked No. 1144, and Vermillion Bluffs/Sevenmile Ridge near Maybell.

For more information, maps and trail guides may be obtained at the Craig Chamber of Commerce. Call (970) 824-5689 or stop by 360 E. Victory Way in Craig.

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