This charming loop hike in Sylvan Lake State Park is an easy and flat 1.6 miles with ever-changing views of Sylvan Lake and the surrounding hills. Unlike most of the lakes in Colorado that were named in the 1800s, Sylvan Lake’s name is the result of a contest held by Colorado Parks and Wildlife when they acquired the lake property in 1962. Originally called Zurchers Lake, it was the location of a fur farm (fox and beaver) and fishing resort that went belly-up, allowing the state to pick up the land from an IRS auction.
In fall the aspen groves offer brilliant color, with the peak color here typically the first week of October. At the upper end of the lake the inlet stream creates a green delta of marsh plants. One of the most interesting features of the lake shore is a large beaver lodge on the east side, just a short way from the day use area and the rental cabins. Many log slides, which the beavers use to move the logs they cut to the water, can be seen on either side of the lodge. The lake shore is very accessible for fishing along most of the trail, and there are a few picnic areas with tables along the west shore. The trail is very clear and would make a wonderful dawn or dusk hike from the campground, or even a full moon hike. Keep and eye out for moose as you hike; they are occasionally seen swimming in Sylvan Lake early or late in the day.