Trail of the Week: Bluffs Loop (with video)
If I’m being totally honest, I was “supposed to” do a longer hike Sunday. I have a list for trail of the week and have so many great options and had tons of time to do one, but I just wasn’t feeling it. I was burned out from a social-heavy week and weekend, our condo hadn’t been cleaned in two weeks, and I needed to go grocery shopping.
I simply didn’t have the energy for a long hike, and I didn’t want to drag myself on a hike because I felt like I had to. Hiking has never been something I do reluctantly, and I wasn’t about to start then.
So, my boyfriend and I packed a small bag and went on a short hike with our dog Dallas on Bluffs Loop. It proved to be a day changer. We were both needing a dose of Mother Nature to improve our moods, and a short romp on Emerald Mountain did the trick.
I had never been on Bluffs Loop until two weeks ago when I was searching for an introductory trail run. Bluffs was perfect and is excellent for beginner mountain bikers or hikers who are coming from lower elevations but still want to experience Steamboat.
This trail is about 2.25 miles long, is 95% easy and gives users views of the best of Steamboat. There are sweeping views of Steamboat Resort, the Yampa River and more about a half-mile up the trail.
The view of Steamboat Resort from the quarry is a must-see, but it’s 2 miles uphill. Not everyone is capable of doing that. Low altitude visitors and beginner bikers should be able get a great shot to put on social media and send to family from Bluffs Loop.
The trail begins at the stables or rodeo grounds trailhead just past the sand volleyball courts and Howelsen Hill. Head up the hill to the left and let the casual hiking begin. Bluffs Loop has a few ups and downs at the very end as trail users approach the trailhead again, but the rest is easy singletrack, lined with tall grasses and mid-season wildflowers. While higher elevation trails are still bursting with early-season flowers, lower Emerald is one of the first to change.
The river is dropping, and temperatures are soaring, but lower Emerald is still green as can be.
Bluffs Loop sees a lot of mountain bike action and occasional wildlife activity, so keep the headphones out and stay alert.
For the easiest and shortest route, bear left to take the Overlook Trail. When it meets back up with Bluffs, take a right to head back to the trailhead. To continue on with the rest of the main loop, take a left.
There are a few picnic tables along the trail, but you’ll have to keep an eye out for them. They aren’t incredibly obvious.
Most of the trail is exposed, and the singletrack is crowded by tall grasses, so sunscreen and bug spray are essential. For trail runners, there are a few small hills to practice getting your trail legs under you. The singletrack is dusty and rocky in spots, so tread carefully.
Emerald is dog, and even cat, friendly, but all animal companions must be on a leash. I know it’s easier and more enjoyable to have our furry friends run ahead unattached to us, but for their safety and the safety of others, they have to stay on a leash. Moose and bear frequent Emerald, and dogs can startle them and cause them to become aggressive. Dogs can also get in the way of cyclists, who are always in the area.
And please, for the love of dog, pick up their poop and the bag you put it in. We are lucky to have these trails, and the beautiful vistas along the way. Let’s keep poop out of the view.
To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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