County's outdoor venues offer hours of recreation

Monday, May 16, 2016
A new boat dock was put in the water at the Elk Creek Boat Ramp on Anderson Ranch Reservoir in March. As the water in the lake starts drawing down this summer, more opportunities to fish and swim along the shore will appear. The area around the boat ramp and the campground across the lake can be a good place for an late afternoon picnic dinner and some fun outdoor recreation.

by Tim Bondy

Mountain Home News

We hear it almost every day, "there's not enough time in the day to get everything done that I need to." Fun and recreation is part of those things that everyone needs to get done in life.

Without it, we eventually burn-out and life becomes miserable. So, take three hours, spend some time with family or friends in a place that nature has provided for us and reset your mental attitude.

One way to do this is an evening picnic, fishing, hiking and swimming thing. With the abundant amount of public lands surrounding Mountain Home, it's easy to find a place to do one or two of those activities. But the trifecta, plus one, doesn't seem possible unless you travel outside our local area.

However, just a short, 40-minute drive from downtown can provide a quick, rejuvenating change of pace.

The area around the Spillway Campground on Anderson Ranch Reservoir is just a 26 mile drive and it has all the necessary ingredient to recharge those mental batteries. And it can all be done after work and before it gets too dark.

The Spillway Campground is currently a day-use only location, meaning you have to leave before sunset. However, national forest service officials indicated they are evaluating whether they should reopen the campground for overnight use.

That decision should be made by the end of May.

Once you get to the campground, there are some picnic tables, bathrooms and easier access to the water. As the reservoir starts drawing down beginning in July, access to the water can get rather steep and difficult, especially late in the summer.

After enjoying a picnic dinner, you can try your hand at catching some trout, bass and even kokanee salmon, plus a few other species that live in the lake. Don't forget to pick up a fishing license before heading out.

While you are at the water's edge, some people jump in the reservoir to cool off. The water temperature in the reservoir can be very cold but by July, it warms to into the high 60s and maybe even the mid-70s by the end of summer.

There are a few short hiking trails in the area also. The easiest trailhead to access is the one-half mile long forest service trail 134A located at the Spillway Campground.

The out-and-back trail follows along the side of the reservoir to a semi-secluded cove. Try your luck at some fishing in the cove or do a little swimming... or both while you are there.

An alternative fishing spot is at the Elk Creek Boat Ramp area a short distance away on the north shore of the lake. To get there from the spillway, drive across the dam and take a right on the dirt road that follows the reservoir's edge for about one-half mile.

This spring, a new floating boat dock was built and is ready for use. As the water levels recede during the summer, the opportunity for fishing from the bank increases greatly at this location.

Parking at the Elk Creek facility will allow you to walk the dirt road further up the reservoir's edge. It is quite a drop down to the water along most of the road so fishing and swimming opportunities are limited to just a few spots the further north you walk or drive.

The geology in this area is dominated by sheer volcanic rock cliffs where eagle and birds of prey type birds seem to enjoy. Deer are occasionally seen along this road also. So keep one eye on the road and one eye on the cliffs for some wildlife.

To get to the Spillway Campground from Mountain Home, head north on Highway 20 for about 20 miles. Make a left on Anderson Dam Road and follow it for five miles until you see the sign for the campground.

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