Hike Fish Creek Falls in Steamboat Springs

Colorado Fish Creek Falls Trailhead

  • Activities:

    Photography, Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Beginner

  • Season:

    Spring, Summer, Autumn

  • Trail Type:

    Out-and-Back

  • RT Distance:

    5 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    1400 Feet

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

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, FishCreek Falls earns its popularity not just by its close proximity to town, butby its spectacular waterfalls. If you are a waterfall aficionado, then thishike is for you.

Just 3.5 miles from Main Street in Steamboat, the hike tothe Lower and Upper falls is less than 2.5 miles each way, for a total of lessthan 5 miles. You’ll park in spacious parking area for which there is a $5all-day fee. Due to the popularity of this hike, the lots will fill in peakseason by 10:00 am, so start early. The trailhead is also well-equipped withbathrooms, a water fountain, and a picnic area.

NOTE: If you enjoy photographing waterfalls, you’ll want toget to the lower falls before the sun crests the ridge; otherwise, the sun’srays will be in your eyes (and camera lens) and reflecting brilliantly off thewater, messing up your beautiful shots.

The Lower Falls is just ¼ mile from the parking lot. Theimpressive 280-foot falls and creek give you a “wow factor” from the verystart. The majority of visitors will not venture much further than this, whichis a shame, because the rest of the hike is gorgeous as well.

Cross the bridge and continue on the trail, which climbs thecanyon wall for another 2 miles or so. At 1400 feet (427 m) elevation gain, thetrail 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 ofaspen trees, making this a worthy hike in the fall, as well. If you hearrushing water close by, go ahead and venture off-trail; you will find anothersmall falls through the dense foliage.

After you cross another bridge, you are about ½ mile fromyour destination. The view opens up a bit, and you can see the town ofSteamboat 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 wherethe Upper Falls is. These falls are not as tall as the Lower Falls, but just asbeautiful. 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 anatural 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 toall the moisture in the air!

Ambitious hikers may want to continue another 4 miles up toLong 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
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Reviews

Overall rating: 

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Very well kept trails and if you go early and on a weekday you'll have the place almost to yourself. (Like right before sunrise early.) Keep on hiking a bit after you pass the falls on the bridge. Bring your camera! Easy and fun for anyone.

2 months ago
2 months ago

Because it is may the weather was colder and it snowed and rained a few time on the hike but personally for me that is when nature is most beautiful for me the weather can really set the tone for your day and I feel like the lest sunny the more you can really see the beauty. Of course I love sunny days but for this particular location it was amazing. Now when you first arrive there is another hike you can go on that is away from the falls but I feel like it's totally worth it. It's a small mountain /hill right next to the first parking lot. You park in the first parking lot get out pay 😉 a measly five bucks and then there will be a side walk you'll be able to start walking on. You'll pass a wooden bench and then shortly after you'll knot ice a trail going up the side of the mountain of course my my boyfriend I being curious we went on it. We continued and finished the hike it was so easy and we where able to finish it there and back in an hour and then continue to the falls which is located by the second parking lot. The falls where beautiful and peaceful and calm again it is may so it wasn't busy what's so Evers that's how I like these types of things haha. An amazing experience in steam boat springs ! Oh and after all this hiking go treat yo self to strawberry springs 😉

5 months ago
5 months ago

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.

12 months ago
12 months ago

Amy KesicStoryteller

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.

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