Trails in Steamboat Springs are primarily smooth dirt singletrack. It is overall not very rocky, although some trails have a fair amount of roots and stumps.
Be aware of wildlife. Occasionally a biker will come across a mountain lion, moose, or bear. Be prepared and have a plan of action in mind.
Of course, adhere to all “rules of the road” and be courteous to other bikers. If you did not bring your own trusty steed, there are several shops that will rent bikes in town.
This network of trails is accessible from many points around the base of the mountain. The primary trailheads are found at Howelsen Park. This park is a quick two mile downhill ride from our townhome down Hilltop and then on the Core Trail to Howelsen Hill (of note though, if you ride down to Emerald, you will have to ride the 1 mile back up Hilltop, which may prove too taxing after mountain biking). There is decent signage on the mountain, but it may be prudent to take a photo or screenshot of the Emerald Mountain Trail System Map before starting your adventure. Some trail apps like AllTrails may also be useful.
View of Emerald Mountain from our Front Door
The most popular trailhead for beginners is next to the Rodeo Grounds and stables. From here you can access beginner trails as well as the entire Emerald Network of Trails with a friendly and gradual ascent. Bluff’s Loop is considered a “green” trail and is a nice loop for beginners and novices. More advanced riders may opt to head up more quickly on a steeper route called Mile Run near the 9th Inning Trailhead. Another option is to park at the Blackmere Trailhead (found off 13th street behind the library) and take Blackmere Road as far up as desired. This road has a steady incline with no let up and many entrances to downhill trails.
For advanced riders, it is also popular to ride to the top of Emerald Mountain, down the back side, and back up and down again. For those wanting to ride to the peak in the least difficult way possible, Morning Gloria will offer the most gradual climb but the trail is 4 miles long without any exits or turnoffs. Another highlight of Emerald Mountain is a downhill only trail called NPR which offers lots of jumps, banking turns, and endless fun without worrying about running into climbing bikers.
Steamboat Resort is not just for skiing and snowboarding. In the summer, Steamboat boasts a bike park with more than 40 miles of trails. The new Steamboat gondola (built in 2019) will whisk you and your bike up the mountain to Thunderhead Lodge where you will have access to numerous downhill “flow” and “tech” trails as well as additional uphill trails. To have access to the gondola, you do have to purchase a daily or season pass.
The marked downhill trails should only be used if you have purchased a pass. However, as Steamboat Resort is also a National Forest, there are some trails you can climb and use without purchasing anything. On the Bike Map, any trail marked as Mountain Multi Use Trails or as a Service Road should be fair game. If you want more direction or advice, check out the Visitors Center at the Steamboat Resort Base to speak to an Ambassador.
A hidden gem in the Steamboat Area are trails found off Buffalo Pass. From downtown, this is about a 15 minute drive to the Dry Lake Campground. From here you can access several mountain biking trails. If you have young kids or are a novice rider, there are two short trails without very little elevation gain or loss located in this area. One is called Fiddlehead, which loops around the actual campground and starts across from the main parking lot and trailhead. Another trail about 1 mile long called Panorama is a loop that starts just past the Trailhead sign. These are our favorites for introducing kids to mountain biking!
About Half Way Up The Flash Of Gold Trail at Buffalo Pass
If you start off on your bike from the parking lot and past the Dry Lake Campground Trailhead sign, you will be nearing two of the most beloved trails in the area. Continue on the main trail and you will end up on the Spring Creek Trail. This trail is 5.2 miles long and ends (or starts) downtown near the high school. Many people park at the Spring Creek trailhead downtown as well and head up Spring Creek, which is known for its 14 bridges crossing the creek and spectacular valley views. Recently local mountain bike enthusiasts created a downhill only trail that has several access points reducing some of the traffic on this narrow singletrack as well as the risk of a high speed collision.
Perhaps one of the most popular trails in this area is Flash of Gold. This trail starts with a sharp left turn off as you head down the top of the Spring Creek trail. It features gentle climbs, rolling hills, amazing views and goes on for 11 miles or as long as you would like before turning around. Of note, this trail is twice as amazing in the Fall when the trees are changing colors, hence the inspiration for its name.