Steamboat Springs is well known throughout Colorado for its champagne powder skiing, natural hot springs and sensational shopping & dining. Over the winter months, most travelers miss out on the opportunity to experience the vast amount of hiking trails.
Over President’s Day Weekend, my friends and I traveled up to Steamboat in hopes of an amazing fresh powder day weekend. Unfortunately, we ran into a stretch of days where the temperature stayed in the mid-50s with 0% chance of new snowfall. To take advantage of the situation, we decided to check out the Fish Creek hiking trail, which offers scenic views and a magnificent 280 foot waterfall.
The trail is quite the short distance hike, only a 1/4 mile to the lower part of the falls. However, be prepared to take your time getting there over the winter months. As you can see, the graveled path that exists in the summer months is covered up with over a foot of snow. This made it much more adventurous for our group, but may be less enjoyable for some.Even if the temperature is in the mid-50’s, it is very important to wear appropriate clothing for the hike. Snowshoes would be the safest for getting around, but hiking boots with decent tread will work just fine. One person in our group learned this the hard way after slipping and sliding the entire hike only to be left at the lower part of the falls due to the vertical incline.
Snow tends to make the hike more challenging, but in the end it is totally worth it. The untouched powder creates a silent and serene environment within the trees. The beauty is even more magnified on Fish Creek falls when the snow melt creates a roaring effect and the rushing water glistens between the snow capped rocks. This is what winter hiking is all about. Take your time and enjoy the natural beauty and surroundings.
If you’re looking to get a couple friends and family shots, you’ll find the perfect picturesque spot where a rustic bridge crosses over the river. This is right at the 1/4-mile mark entering the base of the falls. If any part of the group is not wearing appropriate hiking shoes, this is where they could stay.
You will come across a sign marked “extreme conditions, proceed at your own risk”. Due to the snow packed trail, the environment get much more difficult for the beginner to intermediate hiker.
If you decide to proceed, the trail almost becomes extinct in the winter. Luckily we had some seasoned snow climbers ahead of us that led the way up. If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t have known what part was the path and what part was snow covered gaps that fell straight into the creek.
After trekking halfway to the upper falls, it was time to double back. Without proper snow climbing shoes or gear, the risk of slipping or injury became too severe. We took fifteen minutes to hang out and admire the falls, then headed down.
All and all, it couldn’t have been a more terrific hike on such a beautiful day. Next time you find yourself in Steamboat Springs, I highly recommend checking out Fish Creek Falls. You’ll be glad you did.
Remember to always travel with the proper equipment, fluids for hydration and a partner. Explore more of the Routt National Forest.