Find some of the best day hikes in Colorado when you visit to Steamboat Springs! Surrounded by miles of forest service, bureau of land management, Colorado parks, city parks, and national monument lands, there is no shortage of places to choose a ramble. If you’re looking to be on the popular hiking thoroughfares, then you’ll want to check out the Steamboat Springs Chamber’s top lists. But if you’re looking for wide open sky, being alone, and all-out Thoreau moment in the Colorado wilderness, then this is the write up you’ll want to start with. If you’re willing to get in the car for half an hour or so, you’ll be pleased to go on a quiet adventure with just you and the sage grouse to visit you.
SARVIS CREEK Day Hike
Head south out of town on 131 to visit the Sarvis Creek Trailhead. Once you get to the signs for the trailhead, keep driving on the one-lane access road to get to the trailhead parking lot where you can lace up your boots. Walk back towards the trailhead and head up, meandering through ranch land for about two miles until you get to the forest service bridge. Most people hike to the bridge and back, but you can follow the Sarvis Creek Trail even farther into the wilderness area. You can see remnants of a wildfire that busted through the area a few summers ago. The farther out you go, the fewer people you will see. Keep that in mind as you’ll be in an area that sees lots of wildlife including bears, moose, and mountain lions. Make sure to respect all wildlife and observe them from a safe distance. If you’re happy with just the bridge out and back, bring lunch for a picnic and rest in the small grove of trees beside the creek.
THREE LAKES Day Hike
My personal favorite hike for solitude is out to the Three Lakes, starting at the Wyoming Trail on the top of Rabbit Ears Pass. The trailhead is about thirty minutes from town up the pass and another thirty minutes on a forest service road. It’s an easy start to the trail, as the first half mile is downhill - just remember to keep some water for the final end of the hike. You’ll reach Fishhook Lake first, a popular angler spot to hike in, and eventually come to a crossroads where you can head directly to the farthest lake, Elmo, or take a quick loop to Lost Lake. Each lake is more beautiful than the last, and you ultimately walk through alpine meadow after alpine meadow to get to Elmo to complete the trifecta. As you head back to the road, enjoy the bright sun in the meadows, as the trail is mostly shaded to help you stay cool during the summer temps.
URANIUM MINE Day Hike
What if you’re looking to escape the crowds, but don’t have the time to spend an hour driving to a trailhead? You can still find some mountain sky to yourself with a pretty short trip starting at 3rd Street. Head up to Fish Creeks Falls, but instead of parking in the forest service lot at the top, park in the lower lot just next to the tollbooth. Walk up the path as if you are going to the falls, but about halfway up on the left, you’ll see the unmarked entrance to the Uranium Mine Trail. The fairly short but gorgeous and aerobic hike to an old uranium mine is often passed over for the more popular Fish Creek Falls hike, ensuring you’ll have plenty of solitude to wonder exactly how miners managed to get uranium down the hill in all sorts of weathers. 45 minutes of quick hiking will land you at the mine entrance, off to the left and distinguished by a helpful visitor sign. Take a peek in the uranium mine entrance where you can still see the Danger: Radon signs and enjoy the views of the falls from afar before heading back. About half of the trail is sunny switchbacks, so remember your sunglasses and SPF to prevent amateur sunburn.
Where are your favorite Colorado hikes when you crave solitude? Could you be as bold as me to share your secret spots when you’re looking for some peace and quiet? We promise we won’t go all at once!