Local Knowledge: Mary Beth Galer
● By Dan Greeson
Mary Beth Galer hiking at Mica Lake in the Mount Zirkel Wilderness Area. Photo courtesy Phil Schaeffer.
Personal favorite wilderness hikes and camping spot?
Sunnyside Lakes Trailhead #1861 to Dome Peak for amazing views of the Flat Tops Wilderness. On Ripple Creek Pass, Lily Pond Trailhead #1811. Hike over the Chinese Wall, into the Lost Lakes area in the Flat Tops Wilderness. Camp in the meadows near Lost Lakes. My favorite camping spot is any dispersed/primitive camping. It’s worth the work of finding your own private paradise.
What passes or permits do you need to explore National Forest Service and federal fee areas here?
There are Forest Service fees for select day-use areas, including Fish Creek Falls, Freeman Reservoir, Hahns Peak Lake Eastside, Dumont Lake and Summit Lake. There are 19 Forest Service campgrounds in the Steamboat and Yampa area, with fees from $6 to $12/night/campsite. Consider buying an America the Beautiful Pass for $80, $10 for seniors (over 62). This pass will provide access into any federal fee area (National Parks, Forest Service Lands, BLM), but does not cover camping fees. If you plan to fish, you’ll need a fishing license, which you can get at Colorado Parks and Wildlife offices or from Steamboat’s fishing stores.
Can you recommend a good camping spot for big groups?
Seedhouse group site off Seedhouse Road, 45 minutes north of town, for groups between 25-100. This site rents out for $100/night. It includes 8 campsites, well water, a large shelter with picnic tables, and vaulted toilets. It is close to the river with excellent hiking and climbing spots nearby.
Where can you horse camp in Steamboat?
Dispersed camping with horses is a great way to get into the backcountry. Look for trailheads with larger parking lots that can accommodate your trailer, such as Mad Creek Trailhead or South Fork Trailhead. You can’t camp at the trailhead, but you can start your trek there. You have to be at least ¼ mile from any trailhead before you set up camp. The only campground that has a corral for horses is Freeman Campground north of Craig. Be sure not to bring any unprocessed stock feed (including wheat-free hay); it’s against the law.
What does a good day pack need to include?
Large amounts of drinking water, rain gear, a hat, sunscreen, hiking shoes, enough food in case you are delayed, a map of the hiking area, blister pack for feet, wool socks and an extra layer of clothing in case weather changes.
Silliest question you’ve been asked at the Visitor Center?
Where can I hike close by that has no hills, is in the woods and doesn’t have wildlife, mainly bears? Hmm!
You can make a reservation for all Forest Service Campgrounds at www.recreation.gov or call 1-877-444-6777.