Steamboat Springs may have built a reputation as a winter wonderland, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have just as much to offer in the summer! As the snow clears out, the trails open up, and nature comes to life, you’ll discover a whole other side to the magical mountain town. While winter is ideal for snow sports, summer gives you the chance to have exciting adventures throughout Steamboat Springs’s many beautiful parks. You can hike, bike, and climb all through the season! But with so many parks, how can you decide where to begin? We’ve curated a list of can’t-miss parks and trails around town so that you can have the best, most adventurous summer ever!
Mount Zirkel Wilderness
The stunning, 159,935 acre Mount Zirkel Wilderness was one of the original areas protected under the 1964 Wilderness Act. There’s no doubt about it- Mount Zirkel Wilderness is a unique area. It is home to the headwaters of the Elk, Encampment, and North Platte Rivers, and it boasts around 70 lakes. In addition to this, you’ll find high mountain peaks, such as the over 12000 foot tall Mount Zirkel, the Sawtooth Range, portions of the Park and Sierra Madre ranges, and part of the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail here. Its position on the Continental Divide makes it particularly rugged.
The hiking around Mount Zirkel is unreal. Better yet, the trail system is suitable for all skill levels rather than just advanced hikers.
If you’re looking for an easy trail…
Check out Fish Creek Falls Overlook Trail! This short-and-sweet, 0.7 mile out-and-back trail is the top rated local trail. It is kid-friendly and full of interesting natural features. You’ll love the short stroll to the iconic waterfall!
If you’re looking for a moderate trail…
Check out Uranium Mine Trail! This 3.1 mile out-and-back trail is moderately challenging. It starts out a little rocky and steep but gets manageable a short ways in. On the route, you’ll find fantastic forest scenery and pretty wildflowers.
If you’re looking for a hard trail…
Check out Gilpin Lake Trail! This difficult, 9.7 mile out-and-back trail features some crazy elevation gain, but the trek is worth the struggle. There are numerous stream crossing, bountiful wildflowers, and incredible lake views. This trail is also dog-friendly, so you can bring your furry friend!
Routt National Forest
Routt National Forest is a part of the 2.9 million acre Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests and Thunder Basin National Grassland system. You’ll find everything from breathtaking mountain ranges to awe inspiring open spaces here. There’s terrain for everyone! The hiking is excellent. The top trails are appropriate for moderate level hikers.
Rabbit Ears Peak Trail is a 5.5 mile out-and-back trail through an area that is popular for both birding and hiking. There are wonderful views around every corner.
Mad Creek Trail is an 8.9 mile out-and-back trail where people commonly bike, birdwatch, and horseback ride. The trail consists of deep canyons, old mining cabins, aspen groves and great views- and it is dog-friendly!
Spring Creek Trail is a 10.1 mile out-and-back trail that has lots of wildlife and, of course, scenic views. It is different in that it is partially paved.
Rotary Park has a little bit of everything. There’s fishing access, BBQ grills, picnic areas, and a couple of excellent, easy nature trails.
Yampa Core Trail: Rotary Park South to Trail End is a calm, flat 2.8 mile out-and-back trail that follows the river. It is both kid-friendly and stroller-friendly. Additionally, leashed dogs are welcome.
Yampa Core Trail: Rotary Park North to Trail End is considered an easy trail, but it winds for 10.2 miles. It is also an out-and-back trail and is mostly flat. Like the south trail, it follows the river and is quite scenic.
Steamboat Ski Resort
Hit the trails at your favorite ski resort! In the summer, Steamboat Ski Resort opens up to hikers who want to explore their favorite runs in warmer weather.
Thunderhead Hiking Trail is a challenging route. It is a 6.6 miles out-and-back trail that cuts through a beautiful stretch of forest. It is quiet and shaded, but very steep.
Zig Zag Trail is a bit more moderate. This 2.6 mile out-and-back trail takes you from Thunderhead Lift to Pony Express Lift. It features awesome views of the surrounding landscape.
Traveling with kids? Steamboat Springs has 29 park sites. This includes a number of play spaces for the kids!
We have two favorite playgrounds. Little Toots Park is a riverside park with an awesome playground. Whistler Park has soccer fields and a playground. Both parks have open play areas and picnic tables.
Do you have a favorite park or outdoors space to visit during the summer either in or near Steamboat Springs? Share it with us in the comments!