Trail of the Week: Creekside
Monday was another one of those days in which my original hiking plans did not pan out. I completely forgot a section of Routt County Road 33 is closed, so I couldn’t get to Beall Trail via the traditional route and did not want to spend the time to go all the way around. It was already hot, and I was ready to start a hike.
I have driven by Creekside Trail countless times while heading to the Thunderhead Express trailhead at the top of Burgess Creek Road. So, when I was suddenly in need of a nearby trail, I set off toward Creekside.
The trailhead is on Steamboat Resort land, almost all the way up Burgess Creek Road, marked by a brown sign and a small parking lot on the left side of the road. The lot fits about six cars and was full when I arrived. Thankfully, a man and his dog were just leaving, so I took their spot.
On this morning, I was hiking with my dog Dallas. We headed up the trail, which follows Burgess Creek. The trail is just 1.6 miles long but connects with a few other trails, allowing you to dictate how far you hike and what section of the mountain you explore.
Creekside is mixed-use, as are most trails on the resort, so beware of bikes. I don’t wear headphones while hiking and keep an ear out for the whir of wheels approaching. A few creek crossings gave Dallas a chance to hydrate in the heat. The trail is also partially shaded, providing some relief from the late morning sun.
While hiking with Dallas, I’m more aware of the heat. Dallas is large, black, wears a backpack and can’t sweat, so he gets hot before I do.
Dogs are loyal to a fault. They will follow us anywhere, even if we are unprepared. They won’t ask how much water we have, tell us they are overheating or insist on stopping for a snack. I always bring an entire water bottle just for Dallas, no matter how far we are hiking. I pack a pop-up bowl and some treats. On longer hikes, I’ll pack more protein-heavy snacks for him to munch on. If we humans need mid-hike sustenance, so do dogs.
Bring more water than you’ll need
Pack snacks for your pup
Only allow them to drink clear, moving water
Keep an eye out for panting, drooling, sudden lack of energy, puking
Be aware of wildlife, cyclists (it might be best to keep your dog leashed)
Dispose of all poop and bags
Check for ticks
I also keep a close eye on his pace, his reluctance to carry on after a break and how much he is drooling. Access to water is great when hiking with dogs, but make sure the water is clear and swiftly moving before allowing them to drink. Even though he hates it, I always splash Dallas with water when possible, helping him stay cool.
Once we completed the 1.6-mile stretch of Creekside, the next trails are more exposed and no longer follow a creek. We proceeded to the left, up Pioneer about a mile. Dallas took a quick break in the dust and shade before we decided it was time to turn around.
Right now, the trail is lush with fireweed, one of my two favorite wildflowers. It’s bright pink and grows slightly taller than the grass, so you absolutely cannot miss it. Most wildflowers on the lower portions of the mountain are gone already, but as we moved up Creekside, there were some lingering lupines, hinting that there may be more flowers higher up the trail.
The best part about Creekside is it offers views of the resort that I don’t typically see, as I tend to hike the main section of the mountain. Creekside and Pioneer weave up toward the Pony Express lift and the expert terrain that I don’t dare ski on.
Creekside is five minutes away from other trails I’ve traveled on many times but feels totally different. I love that sense of adventure and exploration, especially when I’m just 10 minutes from home.
To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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