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.

Pack List

  • Hiking boots or trail shoes
  • Day pack with water and snacks
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug spray
  • Layered clothing, depending on the season
  • Camera
  • First aid kit for blisters, scratches, and headaches
Read More

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

Share

Activities:

Hiking, Photography

Skill Level:

Beginner

Season:

Spring, Summer, Autumn

Trail Type:

Out-and-Back

Distance:

5 Miles

Elev. Gain:

1400 Feet

Rating:

Features:

Bathrooms
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Food Nearby
Forest
Handicap Accessible
Picnic Area
River
Romantic
Scenic
Waterfall

Are we missing something?

Suggest an edit

How to Get There

2 months ago

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.

2 months ago

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.

More Adventures Nearby

Catch a Sunset Above Milner Pass

Colorado / Alpine Visitor Center

This is a great place to be at sunrise or sunset.  Bring a camera & tripod and check the weather ahead of time. Take Trail Ridge Road all the way to the top and park at the Alpine Visitor Center.

Calvin Weibel
2 Saves

Hike the Shanahan Ridge Trail

Colorado / Shanahan Ridge Trailhead

Starting on the edge of a neighborhood in South Boulder, this 3.8 mile loop begins its 869 foot elevation gain by meandering through a pine forest.

Hike the Arapaho Traverse

Colorado / Fourth of July Trailhead

Begin at the Fourth of July Trailhead.  Day parking is free and overnight parking is $5.  Fourth of July is a popular trailhead and to ensure parking, you should arrive early in the morning (6am-ish..

Ian Glass
18 Saves