Steamboat is surrounded by hundreds of miles of pristine single-track, doubletrack and access road trails that scale the local mountainsides and follow fast-flowing mountain streams through lush meadows and forests. We’ve put together a list of some of the best hikes in and around Steamboat, so you can get in on the quad burning fun too.

Best hiking trails on the mountain:

All of these hikes are accessible from Steamboat Square or by taking the Steamboat Gondola up to mid-mountain. You can use the Summer Trail Map to familiarize yourself with the different trail names and options before you go!

Vista Nature Trail: This 1-mile loop trail explores the gladed area just above the Thunderhead Lodge. For anyone looking for an easier, shorter in length hike, or if you’re trying to burn off that juicy burger you just had, this is a great option just steps from the top of the Steamboat Gondola.

Sunshine Trail: The Sunshine Trail is a two-mile loop trail that meanders through the tall mountain grass and wildflowers of the Sunshine Bowl. I always find it really engaging to hike or bike through the areas of some of my favorite ski runs, and this trail achieves that perfectly. Snake through the aspens of Closets and Shadows as well as 2 & 3 O’clock.

Creekside: The Creekside trail follows the Burgess Creek through a densely treed aspen gully, switch backing over the flowing stream via wooden bridges and banked turns. This trail is mostly downhill and makes for a great connector to turn the Thunderhead trail into a loop from the base. Bonus points for doing it in the fall with golden aspen leaves guiding the way or on a mountain bike!

Hiking in Steamboat

Thunderhead: 6.6 Roundtrip out and back. Gaining an impressive 2,200 vertical feet in roughly 3 miles, Thunderhead hiking trail offers up a great physical challenge all while delivering on those classic Yampa Valley views. Not only is this a fantastic hike, but it also provides the hiker with great options. Hikers are welcome to hike or take the gondola down the mountain afterwards and have the option to have lunch and or beverages at the Thunderhead Lodge.

Pete’s Wicked Trail: For those who enjoy a bit more of an adventure, climbing Pete’s from the bottom of South Peak up to Sunshine Peak is sure to get you away from the crowds and into serene mountain meadows with beautiful wildflowers. Take the Steamboat Gondola to Thunderhead Lodge and walk the Duster Road to the bottom of the South Peak lift. Hike up Pete’s and connect from Cathy’s Cutoff to Sunshine Trail, and then back down the lower stretches of Storm Peak Challenge Road to complete this great loop.

Best hiking around and near town:

Yampa River Core Trail: The Core Trail is a multi-use trail that is paved for 7.5 miles and runs through the town of Steamboat Springs and alongside the Yampa River. Pop into your favorite shops in the downtown section and seek out solitude on the outer flanks.

Mad Creek: Around 10 minutes from downtown, this trail provides a gentle incline and great views of the entire Mad Creek drainage. Perfect for any length out and back, this trail is 9 miles and offers premium camp sites further up the trail in expansive open meadows.

Hiking in Steamboat

Fish Creek Falls: This trail gains elevation quickly and consistently through beautiful pine and aspen forests, and alongside the banks of Fish Creek. Hike to the second waterfall and gain an impressive 2,300 vertical feet in just 2.5 miles. A combination of a great workout with epic views, I doesn’t get much better than Fish Creek.

Rabbit Ears Peak: At 5.5 miles and just over 1,000 vertical feet of gain, what this hike lacks in overall physical difficulty, it makes up for in droves of unbelievable views as well as a starting elevation that’s higher than the tops of most mountains in the area. This affords the hiker with awesome 360 vistas of the Yampa Valley and surrounding Middle Park valley both from the peak and as you move through open fields of wildflowers and native tall grasses.

Flash of Gold: This is one of Steamboat’s most visually appealing hikes, particularly in the fall when the aspen trees are bright yellow. Follow this single-track trail as it weaves through aspen and fern groves and luscious wildflower fields. At nearly 11 miles and 2,000 feet of elevation gain, you can commit to a longer more strenuous hike or turn around whenever you’re ready.     

No matter what your hiking background and style is, the Steamboat area has something for you. With trails well and truly in summer conditions, it’s time to get after it! Check out trail conditions here.