Carter Lake, Flatiron Reservoir, and Pinewood Reservoir are bunched together just southwest of Loveland, Colorado. Whether you’re looking to hike, camp, fish, boat, or even scuba dive, these lakes make a great destination close to the cities of the Colorado Front Range.
Carter Lake is the biggest lake of the three, at three miles long and nearly a mile wide, and provides the most services. Five campgrounds, a marina, hiking trails, a swimming area, and 1,000 acres of public lands surround the lake. The longest hiking trail is the three mile long Sundance Trail which follows the west shore of Carter Lake. Scuba diving is allowed in specified areas. Entrance permits are required to access all three lakes in the area, including parking areas and hiking trails. Permits are $7 for a vehicle and can be purchased online or at the entrance to Carter Lake.
This forty-seven acre reservoir is just northwest of Carter Lake and sits at 5,470 feet above sea level. Flatiron Reservoir provides camping, picnicking, and bathroom facilities. Boats aren’t allowed on this lake, but fishing from shore is OK. The reservoir is stocked with trout year-round.
Pinewood Reservoir is my personal favorite of the three. It’s more secluded and has beautiful views on the drive up from Carter Lake and Flatiron Reservoir. The reservoir covers 100 acres and the surrounding open space lands cover 327 acres. Tent camping, fishing, and no-wake boating are permitted. The 2.6 mile Besant Point Trail encircles the lake while the 1.5 mile Shoshone Trail provides a nice loop hike along the ridge with excellent views of the reservoir and surrounding mountains. Fisherman’s Cove is a nice relaxing spot, just accross the dam, where water rushes into the reservoir from under the mountain. There’s a picnic table and pine trees for shade in the cove.
Maps and information for all three lakes can be found online at the Larimer County Parks and Open Spaces website.