Hit the Trail
● By Dan Greeson
Justin Reiter mountain bikes the Wild Rose trail on Emerald Mountain. Photo by Noah Wetzel.
Yampa River Core Trail
Follow the seven-mile paved trail that winds its way across town. The popular path clings to the Yampa River with scenic stops along the way. Meander through Rotary Park on the boardwalk over the wetlands, or walk among flowers in the Yampa River Botanic Park. The trail is an excellent option for younger hikers and bikers, and those acclimating to the altitude. Join locals to work on riding techniques at the Bear River Bike Park, located at the west side of the Yampa River Core Trail.
Emerald Mountain and Howelsen Hill
For unrivaled views of Mount Werner and the Yampa Valley, hit the trails that crisscross Emerald Mountain and Howelsen Hill. Beginning riders will enjoy the gentle challenge of Rotary Trail. Experienced cyclists can follow the 25 miles of trail that make up the famed Honey Stinger Race, an annual event on the race calendar. Nothing beats the scenery after a steep climb to the top of Quarry Trail – a favorite spot for hikers and bikers. Head to the bottom of Howelsen Hill to practice skills at the base on the 950-foot BMX pump track.
Steamboat Ski Area
Skip the uphill and ride the gondola to Thunderhead, where a plethora of trail options await. For the gentlest option, hikers can take the one-mile loop on Vista Nature Trail. The scenery is superb and there is plenty to interest younger walkers.
Zigzag to the top of Storm Peak, then enjoy the switchbacks on the downhill ride. Advanced bikers should try Flying Diamond and Rawhide to experience the area’s most advanced technical downhill riding. Trails are clearly marked for authorized users. Test out tricks at Ski Time Square’s pump track, located at the base of the mountain.
Take any route out of Steamboat to bike along rolling paved and dirt roads. Pass historic ranchlands, roll past rivers and climb mountain passes. Share the road and ride single file.
For an out-and-back ride with plenty of rollers, take River Road/County Road 14 to Stagecoach. The road crosses Colorado 131. As an alternative, continue through Oak Creek and ride back on Colorado 131 to make a 42.7-mile loop.
Try a local’s favorite gravel grinder and bike the 37.14-mile Cow Creek Loop. Follow River Road (County Road 14) south and keep right onto County Road 35. Continue to Whitewood and take a right at the schoolhouse to climb up County Road 41. Stay right as the road drops down again and join Cow Creek Road (County Road 45).
For an adrenaline-inducing road ride, bike up Rabbit Ears Pass. This route was used as part of the USA Pro Challenge and boasts vistas that will take your mind off the climb. Rabbit Ears west summit out and back is 26.9 miles.