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by Murray SelleckFavorite rocks and hard places We all have favorite places, but what makes a favorite place favorite? For some, it’s as simple as the look or feel of a place. Perhaps a memory makes it favorite. For Newell Campbell, places are his favorite because of rock, stone, gravel, erosion and slip faults. In other words, because of their geology. Getting up close and personal with local rock formations, Dustin Brown climbs Box Canyon. Newell is a geologist, and his recently published book, Geology Profiles of the Steamboat Springs Area, offers insight into why our favorite places have become the way they are. Splitting his time between Tucson, Arizona, and Steamboat, Newell realized, “I really didn’t knothis area too well.” In terms of geology, that is, so Geology Profiles is the result of that realization. For many, the thought of a geology book may bring back thoughts of unpleasant high school exams. But, by overlooking this book, they would be missing the very reasons why many of us consider Steamboat our favorite place. Geology Profiles is not a dry textbook. The 20 chapters look into 20 different geological features that Newell says give a great overvieof our area. Plus he mixes in quite a bit of history that makes this book an interesting read. Do you knowhere the stone for the courthouse came from? Why does Fish Creek Falls fall and whose “fault” is it that we experienced two minor earthquakes this past fall? “If you don’t knohogeologic features were formed, the scenery gets pretty old, quick,” Newell says.Hidden gems Have you ever had a conversation with friends about crowded trailhead parking lots, homany people you saon a trail, or where the disappearing wilderness is going? The ironic thing is, every hiker you passed is having the same conversation with their friends. Maybe it’s time to find some neplaces to explore.A day hiker enjoys the vieat Gilpin Lake. Hodo you find these hidden gems, areas that are relatively unknown and less frequently visited? Look at your map and identify the popular trailheads. Locally, Slavonia Trailhead leading into the Mount Zirkel Wilderness, Stillwater Trailhead in the Flat Tops, and Summit Lake on Buffalo Pass are popular. And why shouldn’t they be? These are the gateways to outrageously beautiful country. Nolook at the country between these trailheads. Here is where you will find the hidden gems ... and solitude. Here are two suggestions. Troublesome Wilderness Study Roadless Area: This area is out of the way but not inaccessible, located south of Rand and northeast of Kremmling. It’s a roadless wilderness study area. Within Troublesome is ParkvieMountain, a popular spring skiing destination easily accessible from WilloCreek Pass on Colorado 125. Arapahoe Ridge and Hyannis Peak are also popular destinations. Yampa River State Park: Not all trails are forested. Some flowith the current of time, and water. Fly fishermen and boaters have long known the beauty of Colorado’s waterways. You don’t have to be an accomplished fisherman or boater to explore these watery channels. Colorado State Parks manages 13 public access points along the Yampa River from Stagecoach Reservoir to Deerlodge at Dinosaur National Monument.Pete and Kevin Kopischke fish on the Yampa River.Photo courtesy of Corey Kopischke. These are only two suggestions. The wide-open spaces between popular trailheads will offer you more.Steamboat’s top 5 short hikes Timing is everything. When you have a lot of it, go explore. When you only have a little time and want to get out for some exercise, a short, quick hike is a great option. Here are our top five picks. Howelsen Hill: Located right in town, Howelsen Hill offers an easy way to expend energy, quick. The trails that lead above the ski jumps and up Emerald Mountain offer great views of the Yampa Valley, Mount Werner and the Fish Creek drainages. Lots of trail options from hiking to biking to faint deer trails. Mount Werner: Hiking from the base of the Steamboat Ski Area to the top of the gondola is another way to quickly feel like you have left town far behind. From the gondola base area, start up the Thunderhead Hiking Trail. This trail is only three miles long but gains more than 2,000 feet in elevation. The effort is well worth it when you see the views. Fish Creek Falls: Yes, this is probably the most popular trail in the valley and for good reason. The trick is sunrise or sunset. Get up Fish Creek for a sunrise breakfast or arrive late for the sunset. By going early or late in the day, you avoid the busiest times and catch the coolness of the day. Pleasant Valley: There is a wonderful stretch of dirt road located between Stagecoach Reservoir and Lake Catamount. Many people negotiate this potholed stretch of road by car, but do yourself a favor and park at the top or bottom and walk this lovely road. Surprising views, river sounds, wildlife and a feel of what the Yampa Valley once was. Time slows down on dirt roads. If I ever hear of plans to pave this country road, I’ll be the first to lay down in front of the bulldozers. Sarvis Creek: Along your saunter down the Pleasant Valley’s slolane you will find the Sarvis Creek Wildlife Area and the trailhead. Loelevations and thick timber are the highlights here. This trail stays in the valley, where Sarvis Creek cascades through rough and tumble boulders, and hundreds of cool water pools invite you to kick off your shoes and relax awhile. Who says you have to hike on your hike? Enjoy.