hiking

The Best Hiking in the Heart of Steamboat Springs!

The Best Hiking in the Heart of Steamboat Springs!

Hiking any one of the many nature trails that surround Steamboat Springs is a great summer activity. In the wilderness surrounding Steamboat, see gorgeous wildflowers to breath-taking views! While there are some epic hiking trails around Steamboat (such as Devils Causeway), here is a guide to our favorite hikes that are easily accessible from around the mountain area and downtown:

1. Emerald Mountain & Howelsen Hill

Emerald Mountain and Howelsen Hill are located in downtown Steamboat and offer over 10 miles of multi-use trails for hiking and biking. This is a favorite among locals for its location and incredible views that look across the valley to the Steamboat Ski Resort. This is a family friendly hike with easy to difficult options.
 After the Hike Activity: After enjoying a stroll in the woods, head to the Alpine Slide at the top of Howelsen Hill for a wide ride! It’s over 2,400 feet long with steep drops and tight turns! 
2. Fish Creek Falls
Fish Creek Falls is one of the most popular natural attractions in Steamboat Springs. Take a short walk (less than a mile) to the viewing bridge to see the beautiful 283-foot waterfall. The trail continues up the valley for a few more miles if you would like to get some elevation and be able to look back down on the town. This easy access trail is only a few miles from town and the road to the trailhead is paved. There is a $5 parking fee or ride your bike for free! 
 After the Hike Activity: Bring a picnic lunch for the family and enjoy at the picnic grounds located at the beginning of the trail. Camping is also available but needs to be reserved ahead of time.

3. Steamboat Ski Resort / Mount Werner

The Steamboat Ski Area becomes a summer play ground once all the winter snow melts. With miles of trails and great views you can find a perfect easy hike for the family or challenge yourself with a longer, steeper hike. The Steamboat Ski Area offers Gourmet Guided Hikes offered through out the week. The guided hikes are an informational tour of Steamboat history, surrounding wilderness and offer plenty of photo opportunities plus delicious picnic options. 
 After the Hike Activity: Head back to the Gondola to enjoy an après cocktail at the Gondola Sundeck or Hazie’s restaurant while looking down on the beautiful Steamboat Valley.

  •     Thunderhead Trail (3.81 miles):  Trails starts at either top or bottom of gondola.  2,180 vertical feet gain/loss during this moderately rugged single track mountain hike.  Hikers need to carry plenty of water and use appropriate footwear.  Bikes prohibited on top 2/3rds of trail.
  •     Vista Nature Trail (0.86 miles):  Begins/ends at top of gondola, including first section which is wide, graded gravel path that is relatively flat and handicap accessible.  Second portion is dirt, single track.  Bikes prohibited.
  •     Chisholm Trail (1.62 miles):  A challenging hike from top of gondola to Four Points Hut (9, 716 feet) on service road.  Bikes may be encountered along this entire trail.

4. Spring Creek Trail

Spring Creek trail is located in downtown Steamboat and is a popular trail for hiking and biking. This trail is perfect for families with wide, easy sloping and well maintained trails. Hike about .5 miles to the Spring Creek Park where there are educational pavilions and 2 ponds. Continue up the trail through a shady canyon with Spring Creek running next to the trail.
 After Hike Activity: Cool off at the Old Town Hot Springs! Play in the multiple pools, swim some laps, relax your muscles in the multiple hot pools and let the kids play all day on the water slides.

5. Fish Creek Falls

The highlight of Fish Creek Falls is the falls – the 283-foot cascading waterfall is a winter’s worth of snowmelt crashing over a cliff into the canyon creek below. A quarter-mile trail leads down to the falls. From there, hiking enthusiasts can take the six-mile hike to Long Lake that leads to the Continental Divide trail. A half-mile overlook trail gives visitors a birds-eye view of the falls.

The hikes to the overlook and the bridge at the base of Fish Creek Falls are well groomed and easily accessible. Eventually, hikers reach the Upper Falls before continuing onto more switchbacks, a meadow area and Long Lake. The six-mile hike to Long Lake will take hikers up steep switchbacks through heavily forested areas and aspen groves before opening into a lush green valley. As hikers continue along the trail, they will cross a bridge and can turn around to catch stunning views of the Yampa Valley and town.

Visitors also can take a shorter hike starting between the park’s lower and upper parking lots. The 1.5-mile hike takes hikers to the Uranium Mines.

6. Yampa River Core Trail

Ok, some will argue the Yampa River Core Trail is not a hiking trail. Ture. It is in fact a paved walking and biking trail from the mountain area to downtown Steamboat Springs, and follows the winding river the whole way. While it may not be an aggressive hike, a wander along the trail for any distance, or the whole distance, is enough of a hike for many of us! Stop at multiple picnic spots along the way, or end take a break at Freshies for lunch (or breakfast if you an early bird)! Or head all the way into downtown and enjoy the views and some well-deserved delicious food at Sweet Pea Market or Sunpies on the river.

If all these hikes aren’t enough to satiate the explorer in you, pick up a copy of Hiking the Boat at Off The Beaten Path (or online).

So, Where Should You Stay To Be Close to the Hiking Trails?

Without a doubt,  Storm Meadows Condos has the most idyllic location right on the ski area, with hiking trails at your back door. Literally. Or, wander down to the gondola to skip the uphill grind, and be whisked to the top!

Trappeurs’ Crossing Resort and Blackhawk Townhomes are not far from both the ski area trails and the start of the Yampa River trail. To access Howelsen, you can either park downtown at the base of Howelsen Hill near the stables and ski jumps, or from the Fairview neighborhood. You’ll easily find street parking near Spring Creek. Fish Creek has two parkinglots. Don’t forget $10 cash for your parking fee at Fish Creek!

And Don’t Forget to Pack your Hiking Boots!

Looking for more insider information about Steamboat Springs summer activities? Call us to book lodging ( – check our our lodging deals first! – ) and we’ll help answer ALL your questions about Steamboat. We choose to live and love life her, afterall!

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