Fall bucket list: What to explore around Steamboat Springs before winter sets in
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The first few flakes have fallen, and powder hounds are ready for winter’s powder bliss.
Skis and boards are dusted with care. Boots, mismatched socks, gloves and goggles are gathered together — ready and waiting for the first outing.
Alas, fall is still here, and there are plenty of ways to bask in the golden hues.
Whether you are interested in a nature walk at Barr Lake, a horseback ride at Golden Gate Canyon, a mountain bike ride on Buffalo Mountain or a yurt adventure at Pearl Lake or the Never Summer Nordic Yurts, fall in Colorado is a sight not to be missed.
While the ever-so-patient waiting game for the first powder day kicks off, here are a few ways to enjoy the last bits of fall.
Distance: 6.1 miles
Directions: Take U.S. Highway 40 west of Steamboat Springs 2 miles and turn right onto Routt County Road 129. Travel north 18 miles to Seedhouse Road and turn right. Continue for about 4.5 miles, turn left on U.S. Forest Service Road 430 and follow it to the trailhead.
Distance: 12 miles
Directions: Take C.R. 129 to C.R. 64 and continue east for about 4 miles to Forest Road 429 on the left. Take Coulton Creek Trail No. 1188 about 5 miles north to Cutover Trail No. 1188A. Follow it east for about 1 mile to Scott Run Trail No. 1177, and take it south for 1 mile to Forest Road 430. Follow the road south about 2 miles to C.R. 64 about 2 miles west back to trailhead No. 1188.
For bikers and hikers, it’s about an hour drive each way, following picturesque, winding singletrack along Rock Creek.
Distance: 8 miles
Directions: Take U.S. 40 east from Steamboat. Follow Colorado Highway 131 south for 39 miles to Colo. 134. Go 8.2 miles to Forest Road 270 (Lynx Pass), go 3 miles and turn right onto Forest Road 263 for one-quarter mile. (If you pass the bathrooms, you’ve gone too far.) Park on the side of the road at the sharp switchback to the right.
Trail description: Cross the creek and begin climbing Tepee Creek Trail. Turn left onto Forest Road 263. Continue a moderate climb for about 4 miles. Take a right onto Rock Creek Trail, which will start as an old dirt road for about a half mile, then pass a closed gate, and the trail will turn to singletrack. Climb along the Tepee Creek drainage back to Forest Road 263. Continue straight across the road to stay on Tepee Creek Trail.
A local’s favorite technical bike ride, this loop is also shared by ATVs and motorcycles. A preferred ride is the counter-clockwise loop, and is known to be gorgeous in the fall.
Distance: 20 miles
Directions: From Steamboat, turn north on C.R. 129 and drive past Columbine to Forest Road 47, which is on the left just past the Summit Creek Guard Station. Park off Forest Road 47.
Trail description: Follow Forest Road 47 clockwise. It turns into Trail No. 1147. This trail will wind through aspen groves and come over the divide, down to Lopez Creek, then connect with Trail No. 1156. Turn left, staying on Trail No. 1156 back over the divide and down Willow Creek. Stay on the trail across Forest Road 487 to Forest Road 488, turn right and travel to the junction with C.R. 129. Turn left on C.R. 129 and return to the starting point.
Spend an afternoon, overnight or plan a day hike to the hot springs.
Distance: 3 miles
Directions: Park in the Mad Creek Trailhead parking lot via C.R. 129. Follow the narrow dirt path south along the road toward town. This leads to the start of the Hot Springs Trail. At the “No Parking/Private Property” sign, turn left onto a wide, dirt road and briefly follow this to a junction. Veer left and continue walking northeast along the dirt road. In about 0.3 miles, there’s a junction with small sign marking the start of the Hot Springs Trail (No. 1169). Turn right as the trail winds through the banks of Hot Springs Creek then climbs moderately.
Cost: Remember to bring cash if you want to soak in the pools. Head up to the front gate to pay the $15 entry fee for adults. Children ages 3 to 17 cost $8, and children younger than 3 are free. The hot springs is open from 10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays (no entry after 9:30 p.m.) and 10 a.m. to midnight Fridays and Saturdays (no entry after 10:30 p.m.). No children under the age of 18 are allowed after dark.
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