Nine destinations on a bike excursion around Dillon Reservoir
Not all Summit County biking involves extreme singletrack or treacherous mountain passes. If you’re looking for a leisurely cruise with beautiful views, take to the recreation paths around Dillon Reservoir. The trails branch out in all directions, so you can rent a bike and plan a full-day sightseeing tour or a quick jaunt with the kids.
“Two-thirds of the lake section of the path is virtually flat with no elevation gain, so it is a great ride for families, especially dads and moms who are pulling trailers or Tag-a-longs,” said Kevin Kahle, of Rebel Sports. “The ride itself is approximately 18 miles and usually takes, on average, about two to three hours, depending on your conditioning and how many times you stop for pictures.”
Along the way, don’t forget to stop at a few of these destinations to enhance your experience.
1) Pug Ryan’s Lakeside Tiki Bar
You can’t beat a deck that hangs out over the water — which is probably why Summit Daily readers pick Pug Ryan’s Lakeside Tiki Bar at the Dillon Marina for “Best Deck” year after year. If you liked the Tiki Bar before, however, prepare to be pleasantly surprised because this summer, a new, 28-foot kitchen trailer will make an expanded menu of handmade, fresh dishes possible — among them a catfish po’ boy. The Tiki Bar also grows into an additional 600-square-foot tent, which replaces the recently relocated Dillon Marina tent, increasing seating to 30 to 35 tables and expanding the view.
“The Tiki Bar is about the best place to enjoy a drink on the water on a beautiful afternoon,” said Matt Miano, events manager for the town of Dillon.
So grab one of the Tiki’s famous Rum Runners, kick back and enjoy 360-degree views on the water in Dillon this summer. Call (970) 262-6309 for more information.
— Erica Marciniec
2) Island Grill
If you’re feeling parched in your travels along the Frisco side of Dillon Reservoir, stop at the Island Grill at the Frisco Bay Marina and grab an Island Sunset — a signature cocktail of vodka, triple sec and passion fruit puree with a splash of grenadine — or a nonalcoholic fruit smoothie in one of six flavors. The restaurant and bar is right off the bike path on the water.
“We have a great setting,” said Doug Sakata, general manager of the Island Grill. “We look out over the lake on most parts of the restaurant. The view is south toward Grays and Torreys; you can see the mountains and the lake and out toward Keystone and then the whole Tenmile Range from Royal all the way down.”
The Island Grill has some new items on the menu, but you can’t go wrong with the traditional favorite.
“We do a pretty mean fish taco,” Sakata said. “Our fish tacos are unique in that they are blackened, not deep fried, so they are a little more healthy. We do passion fruit sour cream and house salsa, and it’s delicious.”
For more information, call (970) 668-9999 or visit http://www.islandgrillfrisco.com.
3) Cameez Frozen Yogurt & Coffee
The mountain sun can be brutally direct on a cloudless summer day, so a cool, refreshing treat may be high on the priority list. Make a stop at Cameez Frozen Yogurt & Coffee in Frisco for an iced coffee, smoothie, frozen yogurt or shake. At only 32 calories per half-cup serving, your yogurt indulgence can be enjoyed guilt-free and won’t weigh you down on your ride.
“It’s a low-calorie, low-cholesterol treat without the toppings,” owner Tina Wilson said. “You don’t want to have that heavy feeling.”
Umbrellas provide shade to the tables on the outdoor patio, which is right off the bike path next to Christy Sports, in case you need to top off your tires or fix a broken chain. Or secure your bike to the bike rack and enjoy the cool interior of Cameez, which is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. for those early-morning or late-night cravings. Call (970) 368-6071 for more information.
4) Dillon Amphitheatre
Time your bike ride to coincide with a concert or event at the Dillon Amphitheatre. The venue plays host to diversions ranging from Wednesday night country dancing to children’s theater workshops to Friday and Saturday night concert series. On Friday, July 26, the amphitheater will be jumping to the rock, reggae, folk and pop sounds of Something Underground. Forever Dangerous, an homage to the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, will perform at the venue on Saturday, July 27, as part of the Sunset at the Summit Concert Series.
For a complete lineup of events at the Dillon Amphitheatre, visit http://www.townofdillon.com.
5) Bird watching
“There is a great spot between us and the dam,” said Stewart Voutour, of Team Managers bike shop in Frisco. “It is the osprey viewing area.”
The osprey is a large, white bird of prey that spends its summers in the High Country in around Summit County and has its wintering grounds in South America. The birds nest on the islands in Dillon Reservoir, and they can be viewed from many vantage points along the recreation path.
“We tell them to keep an eye out for the osprey nest overlook, complete with viewing optics provided by the county,” Kahle said. “We tell them to keep an eye out for mountain bluebirds on the east shore, as there are a lot of bluebird homes that have been placed along that section.”
6) Dam Road
A highlight of the trek around the reservoir is taking the Dam Road between Frisco and Dillon.
“Biking across the Dam Road is a great experience all in itself,” Miano said. “It is a very moderate ride offering some of the best views in the county.”
The bike path travels parallel to the road across the scenic face of the dam, with outstanding panoramas of the reservoir and surrounding mountains.
“It is about 5 miles each way and, if you are hungry for ice cream, involves stopping at the A&W restaurant in Frisco,” said Lefty Clary, owner of Lake Dillon Bike Rentals. “Other options for food and drink could be any number of places on Main Street or even the Island Grill at Frisco’s marina. It takes about an hour each way, and that gives you an hour to relax and eat or drink that yummy root beer float.”
7) Lake Dillon Water Taxi
If the altitude is getting to you or your bike saddle doesn’t quite feel as comfortable as it did at the beginning of your ride, take the water taxi across the reservoir to cut your trip in half. The taxi picks up at the “A” dock at the Frisco Marina and at the courtesy dock near the boat ramp in Dillon, and fares are $10 for adults and children 12 and older and $8 for children 3 to 11 for a one-way trip. It’s an extra $1 for each bike or child carrier, and children 2 and younger are free. The taxi runs continuously from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends. Call ahead for a pickup.
“The water taxi is a great option,” said Stewart Voutour, of Team Managers bike shop in Frisco. “Ride from our shop to the Dillon Marina, enjoy some time at the Tiki Bar, and take the water taxi back to Frisco.”
Call (970) 486-0250, or visit http://www.dillontaxi.com for more information.
8) Dillon Marina
Aside from grabbing a Rum Runner at the Tiki Bar, there are other ways to entertain yourself when you take a break from your ride at the Dillon Marina. Before jumping on your bike, take a pontoon tour of the reservoir to learn the history of Dillon and the Dillon Reservoir. The tours last an hour and a half each Wednesday and are $20 for adults and $10 for children 12 and younger. If you’d rather save your excursion for the end of the day, rent a boat and reward your biking efforts with a late-afternoon cruise around the reservoir.
“The marina offers boat rentals, including motor boats, pontoon boats and sailboats,” Miano said.
The Dillon Marina also hosts weekend sailing regattas and offers sailing instruction, and the reservoir is home to brown and rainbow trout that can be fished from boat or shore with a valid license. Visit http://www.townofdillon.com for more information.
9) Sapphire Point Overlook
If you want a bit more of an uphill pedal, take a detour up to the Sapphire Point Overlook along Swan Mountain Road. The area has public restrooms, and a short hike yields a commanding view of the reservoir.
“For the hardier riders, we tell them about Sapphire Point at the top of Swan Mountain Pass — a beautiful, easy 15-minute walk with an overlook of Lake Dillon and the place that I proposed to my wife,” Kahle said. “And the chipmunks will come and sit on your lap for a peanut.”
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