In late March, I headed out to look at a few areas in the SNP where I had not fished. One location that I have always been interested in is the Hazel River. It is marked as a wild trout stream, so I wanted to check it out.
Driving up, I noted that the water flow was fairly low, but was not concerned about that as most of the water volume of SNP streams is fairly low. What is critical is that there is enough water volume moving through the system to keep the pools fresh. The trout in the SNP live exclusively in pocket water – small pools that collect in the draws and dips as the water tumbles down into the valley. The pools don’t support much in terms of trout quantity or size, but what is there is fun to get at – mostly because of the physical challenge associated with clambering up and around the rocks in the hunt for those elusive wild fish.
With all that in mind, I was anxious to find another nice SNP stream. When I drove up, I was immediately confused as there was no clearly marked public access to the bottom of the river. There is a gate and what appears to be private property at the spot indicated on the map at the bottom right. To compound matters, a bit down from the intersection there are state posted formal “no parking” signs. Usually, these are put up to protect the landowner’s property that surrounds a public access point – to direct the traffic to the proper, if limited parking areas. That indicates that there is a parking challenge in this area and that is is normal for cars to come here for access to the river. After all, there a’int nuthin’ else here to draw a crowd.
The final item of interest is that there were three cars parked in the legal parking area just north of the signs. So… these guys were obviously fishermen.
The map on the lower right is one I pulled from a hiking site and it shows that the Hazel River trail does not start at the “fishing access point”. Rather, it’s a loop from the top. Interesting to note that the trail goes outside the park and into the private land that you would have to cross to get to the water in the SNP. That’s another bit of evidence that you can access this water from below and do not need to deal with the steep climb from the top to get to the river.
So.. the bottom line is that the Hazel looks good. I need to verify the legal status on whether you can walk in from the south.
Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore