Hike Fish Creek Falls in Steamboat Springs
Colorado › Fish Creek Falls Trailhead
Added by Amy Kesic
Waterfalls, waterfalls, waterfalls! This is a moderate hike the whole family can enjoy located close to Steamboat Springs. The trail is handicap accessible to the lower falls.
Easily the most popular hike in Steamboat Springs, Fish Creek Falls earns its popularity not just by its close proximity to town, but by its spectacular waterfalls. If you are a waterfall aficionado, then this hike is for you.
Just 3.5 miles from Main Street in Steamboat, the hike to the Lower and Upper falls is less than 2.5 miles each way, for a total of less than 5 miles. You’ll park in spacious parking area for which there is a $5 all-day fee. Due to the popularity of this hike, the lots will fill in peak season by 10:00 am, so start early. The trailhead is also well-equipped with bathrooms, a water fountain, and a picnic area.
NOTE: If you enjoy photographing waterfalls, you’ll want to get to the lower falls before the sun crests the ridge; otherwise, the sun’s rays will be in your eyes (and camera lens) and reflecting brilliantly off the water, messing up your beautiful shots.
The Lower Falls is just ¼ mile from the parking lot. The impressive 280-foot falls and creek give you a “wow factor” from the very start. The majority of visitors will not venture much further than this, which is a shame, because the rest of the hike is gorgeous as well.
Cross the bridge and continue on the trail, which climbs the canyon wall for another 2 miles or so. At 1400 feet (427 m) elevation gain, the trail is moderately steep, so be prepared with proper hiking shoes and gear. Most of this 2 miles is through the forest, but the view does open up at times, giving you a nice view of the canyon. There is also an impressive section of aspen trees, making this a worthy hike in the fall, as well. If you hear rushing water close by, go ahead and venture off-trail; you will find another small falls through the dense foliage.
After you cross another bridge, you are about ½ mile from your destination. The view opens up a bit, and you can see the town of Steamboat Springs lying in the valley below. After crossing a short cliff face, there is another small falls just off the trail, surrounded by wildflowers (when in season). Take some pictures but keep going, however; the Upper Falls lie 10 minutes ahead.
You’ll crest into a natural resting area, and that is where the Upper Falls is. These falls are not as tall as the Lower Falls, but just as beautiful. You can get quite close to these falls (using a lot of caution!), and it is situated beautifully for photography. Some shaded rocks make for a natural resting area with plenty of friendly (read, “fed by humans”) chipmunks. Bring the bug spray, though; the mosquitoes and flies are thick up here due to all the moisture in the air!
Ambitious hikers may want to continue another 4 miles up to Long Lake; the rest of us will enjoy the falls all over again on the way down.
- Hiking boots or trail shoes
- Day pack with water and snacks
- Bug spray
- Layered clothing, depending on the season
- First aid kit for blisters, scratches, and headaches
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Nice Day Hike
I was in town just for the day and spent a few hours with my dog here. Great hike for someone who wants to feel like they're "doing something" without killing themselves, especially nice for a flatland Chicagoan such as myself getting used to the altitude of Colorado.
Added by Amy Kesic
A mom who decided to get fit a few years ago, I took up running and hiking to keep myself moving. Since moving to the Front Range foothills a year ago, I've spent my free time discovering all the trails I possibly can. I'm in love with Colorado and the Rocky Mountains; I also like to take pictures, and I share my adventures here on The Outbound and on Instagram at @run2themountains.Follow
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