The sky was bright, the sun warm on our faces as we rounded the corner and caught sight of blue-green waters of the Gross Reservoir through the trees — we’d reached our destination.

My fiancé beamed as I clambered up a nearby bolder to get a better vantage point of the lake. Ahead, a handful of hikers sat along the waterline.

Gross Reservoir seen through the trees

Owned by Denver Water and named for former Chief Engineer Dwight D. Gross, the reservoir has served as storage for water that flows under the Continental Divide through the Moffat Tunnel.

Since completion in 1954, the reservoir has become a popular destination for fishers, hikers kayakers and campers living in and around Boulder.

The hike down Forsythe Canyon had been a gentle one, taking us just over half-an-hour to traverse the mile or so from the top of the canyon to the waters below. The trail had been well groomed, and was clearly well-traveled.

Along the way we dodged giant thistles in full bloom, their brilliant purple blossoms a distraction from their brisling leaves. Many had already begun to seed like giant dandelions.

Forsythe Canyon Trailhead
A thistle flower blooms alongside the trail

Our hike followed a narrow creek bed that trickled down to the reservoir below. Today the creek must have measured just a few inches across, but following a storm I suspect it often swells to fill its banks.

Sadly the dry lake bed also meant one of Forsyth Canyon waterfall was nowhere to be seen.

Like most canyon hikes, the first leg is easiest. However, the hike out of the canyon was far from anything I would describe as strenuous with less than 400 feet of elevation change from the bottom of the canyon to the top.

Forsythe Cayon rock staircase
Niecie climbs out of Forsythe Canyon.
Hike out of Forsythe Canyon
The hike out of Forsythe Canyon was by far the most strenuous portion of our trip.

As we neared the trailhead and the end of our hike, the clap of thunder served as a reminder that the weather here can change all too quickly. While still quite sunny overhead we quickened our pace. Not long after clambering into our Jeep, the sun disappeared under a sheet of dark clouds. We’d made it.

Enjoy this post?

If you liked this post, you might enjoy reading about our recent hike in the Roosevelt National Forest.