Beginners Luck on Bluffs Loop
Mountain biking has exploded in Steamboat Springs over the past 5 years. In 2013, voters approved a dedicated accommodations tax to help grow and maintain the trail systems in and around Steamboat. Numerous local non-profit organizations act as ambassadors and stewards for the sport. Local and state agencies have partnered to plan, build, and maintain our trails. With all of this support and development, it’s easy to see why Steamboat Springs is also called Bike Town USA.
Last night, I joined a few of my friends for a quick ride up Emerald Mountain. This gem is located a stones throw away from downtown, and offers over 30 miles of multi-use trails, catering to riders of all ability levels. Since my friends are new to mountain biking, we decided to take it easy and explore the Bluffs Loop Trail. This green (easy/moderate) trail is a short 2.4 miles round trip, and is easily accessible from the Emerald Mountain trailhead near Sombrero Stables.
The trail starts out a little steep, but quickly mellows as you climb the ridge through aspen groves and over a series of small bridges. Eventually you pop out into a small clearing with fantastic views of downtown.
As we entered back into the aspens, we had a choice of going left towards the Overlook Trail, or right to stay on Bluffs Loop. The Overlook Trail is a short and easy extension for anyone looking to add a little extra mileage and difficulty to their ride. We decide to keep right and continue on Bluffs Loop.
Eventually we emerge from the aspens into a wide open meadow. As we ride along a ridge above the Yampa River, we take in the panoramic views of Mt. Werner, and stop occasionally to smell the abundant purple and yellow wildflowers lining the trail. We navigate our way through several rocky sections, which provide the perfect opportunity for us to practice some of our technical skills. This portion of the trail is more exposed to the hot summer sun, so we stop briefly in the shade of an aspen grove to guzzle water from our bottles and cool down.
The ride back towards the trailhead takes us through more meadows, shaded forest, and a short canyon with unique rock features and pristine single-track. With a little beginners luck, my friends manage to successfully negotiate several steep sections, eventually arriving back at the base area.
For my friends, a successful first ride on Emerald Mountain calls for celebration (and a cold drink), so we pedal over to The Barley to sample some of the 40+ beers that they regularly have on tap. As I sip on a delicious strawberry rhubarb sour, my friends swap stories of their first ride, and we watch as the sun slowly sinks behind the horizon. And so ends another beautiful day in the boat!
Emily Hines is the marketing and special events coordinator for the City of Steamboat Springs. Emily was born and raised in the Yampa Valley and attended the University of Oregon, where she received a Bachelor of Science in business administration with concentrations in marketing and sports business. In 2013, after seven years working on the East Coast for a lifestyle and sports marketing agency, she found her way back home to Steamboat. She loves the outdoors and enjoys sharing her adventures and all that Steamboat has to offer.
Read more from Emily here.
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