The first signs of summer waning into fall are showing themselves in the mountains surrounding Steamboat Springs.
Ferns and sarvisberry are turning a deep gold and becoming crisp to the touch. Birds are beginning to flock together, anticipating migration. First light arrives later and later causing me to accidentally sleep in longer. Even the light at dusk carries a softness that summer just can’t reproduce. The signs of fall are here and they will only accentuate themselves as we swiftly move through September and October.
Fall is by far the best time of the year for hiking and camping. Pesky summer bugs have long disappeared. Hot summertime temperatures are just a memory and are replaced with a light fleece to take the edge off the cool mountain mornings.
Explore the Fall Breakaway Package
Hiking the high country trails in September and October north of Steamboat in the Mount Zirkel Wilderness or south in the Flat Tops Wilderness Area is a gift we don't take for granted. The trails take on a “road less traveled” feel. Mountain breezes bend the brown grasses and the branches of tall pines, over the crunchy tundra and between house-sized boulders with whispers of cold fronts. The sound makes you look over your shoulder to see who is there but it is only the wind or, perhaps, Old Man Winter coming up the trail behind you.
The Mount Zirkel Wilderness has a big mountain feel to it without the daunting elevation gains of other mountains in Colorado. Easy access is from the Slavonia trailhead outside the town of Clark. From Slavonia-Gilpin Lake, Gold Creek Lake, and Mica Lake are gorgeous destinations. The exploring possibilities in the Zirkels are endless.
The Flat Tops are aptly named due to their tabletop mountain formations. Easy access into the Flat Tops is from Stillwater Reservoir outside the town of Yampa. Pick your trails and stick to them here. Bushwhacking through the forest is close to impossible due to a beetle epidemic in the 40's. Downed trees make for a pick-up-stick tapestry but by no means reduces the beauty. Hundreds of creeks and lakes give you plenty of options and once you are on top - the 360 degree views are unparalleled.
Fall in the Steamboat Springs area is incredibly special. The number of days to get in your last hikes before winter begins in earnest are numbered. The best thing to do is put off the weekend chores, cancel a few weekday appointments, and create the time to get out and hike the high country around Steamboat Spings this fall.
Ski Haus is Steamboat's oldest and most complete mountain shop, featuring outdoor gear and clothing for biking, hiking, camping, climbing, and relaxing. Visit Ski Haus for what to do and where to go!