Hiking and Backpacking Trails

Grab your hiking boots. We have a number of hiking and backpacking trails for all levels, and Rocky Mountain views that will take your breath away.

See below for hiking and backpacking trails, please note that many trails also offer biking and/or ATV.

See our biking trails for a complete list of biking options or view the City of Steamboat's interactive trail map for a more comprehensive list of trails.

Interactive Trail Map

There are more than 80 maintained trails on U.S. Forest Service land. See the local Forest Service office for more information and detailed trail maps.

U.S. Forest Service
925 Weiss Drive
(970) 870-2299
8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday

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Hiking

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Easy
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Mtn Biking

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Moderate
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Dirt Biking
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Difficult

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ATV

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 Expert Only

Elk Run Trail – Stagecoach State Park

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10 Miles Roundtrip | Starting Elevation 7,212 ft | Highest Point 7,212 ft | Wildlife viewing

Trail begins at fishing access parking lot off Routt County Road 16 at south end of Stagecoach Reservoir. At about 4.5 miles, trail crosses the dam and joins Routt County Road 18. Follow Routt County Road 18 to park road, past marina and offices. Take right on Routt County Road 14 and back to Routt County Road 18. Wildlife can be viewed, especially in late afternoon.

More on Stagecoach

South Fork Loop

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12 Miles Roundtrip | Staring Elevation 7,680 ft | Highest Point 8,400 ft | Views of Mountain Peaks

Can be done as a loop or one way. For the loop, start at Hinman Campground. Trail exits at NFSR #433; follow it west and north to NFSR 400 and then west back to Hinman. To go one way, park at trailhead #1100 off NFSR #443 and walk downhill to Hinman. Features spectacular views of mountain peaks. This trail follows south fork of Elk River.

Spring Creek Trail

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10.5 Miles Roundtrip | Staring Elevation 7,000 ft | Highest Point 7,920 ft | Within city limits

Access trail at corner of Amethyst Drive and Maple Street Follow Routt County Road 34 (single-lane, rough road) 1/2 mile to reservoirs. Trail continues approximately 4 miles to Dry Lake Campground. Popular mountain bike trail on improved surface.

Vista Nature Trail

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0.86 miles roundtrip | Staring Elevation 9,080 ft | Steamboat Ski Resort

This trail can be accessed at the top of the gondola and is a short loop with views of town. It begins as a wide gravel road and becomes narrow singletrack about half way around the loop.

This can be a leisurely hike followed by lunch at the Oasis Sundeck.

Another great option is to pack a picnic and stop where the views suit you just right for a lovely day in nature.

Vista Nature Trail

Mad Creek Trail/Hot Springs Trail

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4.5 Miles Roundtrip | Starting Elevation 7,000 ft | Highest Point 7,400 ft | Popular bike trail

Take Routt County Road 129 to the Mad Creek trailhead to access the Hot Springs Trail, walk back down Routt County Road 129 approximately 400 yards on left (trailhead not marked) to NFSR 128. About ½ mile up, the hot springs trail cuts off to the right.

Strawberry Park Hot Springs are private; admission is charged to access the springs.

To hike to the Mad Barn access the Mad Creek trailhead from Routt County Road 129.

More About Mad Creek

For more on the Mad Creek Trail and the history of the Mad Barn watch this FOX 31 Explore Colorado segment with Jennifer Broome.

Watch Video

Mad Creek Trail

   Photo Courtesy: Shannon Lukens

Devil's Causeway

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10.5 miles Roundtrip | Starting Elevation 10,280 ft | Highest Point 11,820 ft | View of Flat Tops

Access the appropriate parking lot by turning down Routt County Road 7 in downtown Yampa, and follow the road until it ends. It will go nearly 17 miles, switch to a dirt surface and become Forest Service Road 900. Go around one lake and pass another before ending at a parking lot on the north end of Stillwater Reservoir.

This is a 10.5 roundtrip hike or 5.6 miles to the Causeway and back.

Devils Causeway Hiking Backpacking

Emerald Mountain Quarry

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4 Miles Roundtrip | Views of downtown and ski area

Drive west out of town on U.S. 40 until you reach 13th Street. Turn left onto 13th Street, drive over the bridge, and make a left onto Gilpin Street. Take the first left onto Saratoga Aveune, and make a quick right onto Routt Street. The trailhead is at the top of Routt Street.

You are sure to take in some amazing views of downtown and Mt. Werner on this hike that's conveniently located within City limits.

Emerald Hike

Fish Creek Falls

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7.6 Miles Roundtrip (1/4 miles to first falls) | Falls are 280 ft

From downtown Steamboat Springs, head east on third street for one block. Take a right onto Fish Creek Falls Rd., 3 miles to the Fish Creek Falls parking area. Two parking lots are provided. The lower lot is for overnight and horse trailers and the upper lot is for day hiking and picnic parking. Both lots require a $5 fee per vehicle per day. Please use the envelopes that are provided.

More on Fish Creek Falls

Fish Creek Falls Hiking Backpacking

Fishhook, Lost, and Lake Elmo

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6 Miles Roundtrip | Starting Elevation 10,000 ft | Highest Point 10,000 ft | Excellent Fishing

Take US 40 southeast to Dumont Lake NFSR 315 to NFSR 311. Take 311 north about 4 miles to Wyoming Trail #1101 at Basecamp Trailhead. (NOTE: 4WD suggested on NFSR 311). Follow Trail #1101 north about 3 miles, past Fishhook and Lost Lake to Lake Elmo. Return to Basecamp Trailhead. Trail # 1101 continues north to the Wyoming state line.

Hinman Creek

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6.1 Miles Roundtrip | Creek crossings may be high during spring | Wear orange during hunting season

Take Hwy 40 west of Steamboat Springs two miles and turn right onto County Road 129. Travel north 18 miles to the Seedhouse Road (NFSR 400, also CR 64) and turn right.  Continue for about 4.5 miles and turn left on to NFSR 430 and follow it to the trailhead.

Gilpin Lake

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9 Miles Roundtrip | 29 Acre, Blue Alpine Lake and views of the Sawtooth Range

Drive west out of Steamboat Springs on Hwy. 40 approximately 2 miles and turn right on Elk River Road (County Road 129). Follow CR 129 about 18 miles to Seedhouse Road (NFSR 400; also CR 64) and turn right. Continue for 11 miles to the end at the Slavonia trailhead parking area, where the Gilpin Lake trailhead begins.

This hike can turn into the Zirkel Circle hike, which continues to Gold Creek Lake and back to the Slavonia trailhead parking area – 11 miles roundtrip distance.

Gilpin Lake Hiking Backpacking

Gold Creek Lake

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8 Miles Roundtrip | 8 Acre Lake Forested by fir and lodgepole pines

Drive west out of Steamboat Springs on Hwy. 40 approximately 2 miles and turn right on Elk River Road (County Road 129). Follow CR 129 about 18 miles to Seedhouse Road (NFSR 400; also CR 64) and turn right. Continue for 11 miles to the end at the Slavonia Trailhead parking area where the Gold Creek Lake trailhead begins.

This hike can turn into the Zirkel Circle hike, which continues to Gilpin Lake and back to the Slavonia trailhead parking area – 11 miles roundtrip distance.

Gold Creek Hiking Backpacking

Rabbit Ears Peak

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6 Miles Roundtrip | Starting Elevation 9,600 ft | Highest Point 10,651 ft | Wildflower Fields
Take East U.S. 40 to Dumont Lake Campground turn off. Follow road past the campground and picnic area, turn left at Rabbit Ears Pass monument and follow signs to NFSR 311 (rough road; 4-wheel drive suggested). Continue approx. ¼ mile to NFSR 291 on right. Park and hike on road, which bears to the right.

The Rabbit Ears are remains of pyroclastic materials, which are layers of extruded rock and ash. Do not climb on the “ears,” which are unsafe, crumbly rock.
Rabbit Ears Peak

Red Dirt

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12.6 Miles Roundtrip | Popular Hunting Trail during Fall

Drive west of Steamboat on U.S. 40 approximately 2 miles. Turn north on County Road 129, Elk River Road. Travel about 7 miles to Red Dirt on right side of the road (just past the Mad Creek trailhead). The trail is a steady up hill climb until it drops into the Mad Creek drainage.

Sarvis Creek

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5 Miles Roundtrip | Staring Elevation 7,000 ft | Highest Point 7,840 ft | Sarvis Creek Wilderness

Follow Routt County Road 18 past Stagecoach Reservoir dam approx. 1.7 mile to Sarvis Creek State Wildlife Area and turn right. Follow main road ½ mile to Sarvis Creek Trailhead parking lot.

Most people follow the trail 2.2 miles to the bridge that crosses Sarvis Creek and turn around, but trail continues to Buffalo Park Road. (12 miles one way).

Sarvis Creek

Three Island Lake

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7 Miles Roundtrip | Staring Elevation 8,380 ft | Highest Point 9,878 ft | Mount Zirkel Wilderness

The Three Island Lake trail is the perfect Zirkel Wilderness hike. The climb through aspen groves next to the Elk River makes the journey alone worth the effort, but the view from the top spanning a pristine lake and the meandering streams that flow from it make this hike one of the most stunning in the area.

Turn right past Seedhouse Campground on NFSR 443 and continue approximately 3 miles to trailhead on left side of road. Turn right at intersection of trail #1163 and follow to lake in Mount Zirkel Wilderness. No bikes Allowed. This trail follows the south fork of the Elk River.

Thunderhead Hiking Trail

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3.81 miles one-way | Starting Elevation 6,900 ft | Highest Point 9,080 ft | Steamboat Ski Resort

Trail is accessed at the Steamboat Ski Resort base area. This trail winds up the mountain to the top of the gondola. There are a few steep sections but the trail is always in great condition so no need for concern. Just stop and catch your breath when need be; great excuse for photo ops of the beautiful views.

Hikers can take the gondola down from the top of the mountain at no charge. You can also enjoy lunch or a beverage at the Oasis Sundeck.

Thundershead Trail

Coulton Creek Loop

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13 Miles Roundtrip | Starting Elevation 7,640 ft | Highest Point 8,600 ft | Single Track

Take Routt County Road 129 to Routt County Road 64 and continue east for about 4 miles to NFSR 429 on left. Take Coulton Creek Trail #1188 about 5 miles north to Cutover Trail #1188A. Follow trail #1188A east for about 1 mile to Scott Run Trail #1177. Take trail #1177 south for 1 mile to NFSR 430, then follow this road south about 2 miles to Routt County Road 64 about 2 miles west back to trailhead #1188.

Hare Loop

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26 Miles Rountrip | Starting Elevation 8,680 ft | Highest Point 10,038 ft

Take Routt County Road 129 to NFSR 550, then north 4 miles to NFSR 500, then east 2 miles to NFSR 402, then south 1 mile to trailhead #1203. Take Farwell Mountain Trail #1203 (single track, no ATVs) southeast about 5 miles to NFSR 409, then follow the road about 3 miles to Wyoming Trail #1101. Take Trail #1101 north about 10 miles to Hare Trail #1199, then follow the trail west about 3 miles to NFSR 520. Take 520 west 3 miles to NFSR 500, south on 500 about 1 mile to NFSR 402 and back to trailhead #1203.

Manzanares Trail Loop

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27.5 Miles Roundtrip | Starting Elevation 8,680 ft | Highest Point 10,038 ft | Wildlife viewing

Take CR 129 to FS Road 550, then north 4 miles to NFSR 500, then east 2 miles to NFSR 402, then south 1 mile to trailhead #1203. Take Farwell Mountain Trail #1203 (single track, no ATVs) southeast about 5 miles to NFSR 409, then follow the road about 3 miles to Wyoming Trail #1101. Take Trail #1101 north about 13 miles to Manzanares Trail #1204, follow the trail west about 5 miles back to trailhead 1203. Hilly, rocky sections and steep grades make this a challenging trail.

Nipple Peak Loop

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30 Miles Roundtrip | Starting Elevation 9,500 ft | Highest Point 10,200 ft

Take CR 129 north to Forest Road 047. Turn left and continue about 10 miles to trailhead #1127. Left on trail #1156 about 10 miles. Left on CR 129 back to the car. Hills, rocks and trees add to the difficulty of this loop.