• Activities:

    Photography, Mountain Biking, Running, Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Beginner

  • Season:

    Summer, Autumn

Family Friendly
Forest
River
Scenic
Wildflowers

Explore a historic barn. Hike with a history lesson. Hike along a creek. Great wildflowers in summer. Hike through different eco-systems. Family friendly hike. 5 mile out and back hike. Elevation Gain: 900ft.

Surrounded by ranches, barns are a common sight around Steamboat Springs, Colorado. There’s a great hike you can do to an old homestead to enjoy one of the best old barns in the area. Mad Creek Trail is a favorite hike of locals and tourists in Steamboat. The Mad Creek Trailhead is about 5 miles north of Steamboat on Routt County 129, also known as Elk River Road.

As you start out on the trail, you are high above Mad Creek and the canyon landscape is incredible. Along the way the scenery quickly changes and you get to enjoy different ecosystems from the pine forest to the creek bed.

As you get closer to Mad Creek, the scenery changes to green meadows filled with wildflowers in summer.

You get right next to the creek at one point. Dip your hand in the rush water. It’s ice cold because of snow melt.

Mad Barn is picturesque as it sits in an emerald field. It is an original U.S. Forest Service cabin homestead preserved from the early 1900s. It is a two-story, pioneer-style, side-gabled log and frame construction with hog trough corners. Rancher James (Harry) Ratcliff purchased the property in 1904, began homesteading it and built the barn around 1906 using logs from land adjacent to his property, which in 1905 became part of the Routt National Forest. Ratcliff became the first Forest Supervisor of the Routt National Forest and an advocate for conservation of federal lands.

You can still explore the inside of the old barn. It was restored in 2001. There’s old iron equipment, troughs, and old stalls in the barn.

There’s even an old wooden ladder you can climb up to the second floor if you’re feeling adventurous. The ladder takes you up to a big open room with wood planks for the floor. Sit in the second floor window and soak in the view. As you sit quietly, the barn creaks as the wind blows through, making it sound like the barn is breathing.

If you’re a hiker and love a little history then this hike is for you. Round trip hike to Mad Cabin is about five miles.

Pack List

WaterSnacksWater shoes if you want to get in creekCamera

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

Community Photos

+ Add Photos

Reviews

Overall rating: 

Leave a Review

We went in early October to catch the aspens changing and it was definitely worth it! The trail is a little rutted in some places due to heavy mountain bike use, and for good reason! The views are gorgeous and the barn is fun to explore in. We ended up lunching by the river and read and relaxed for a while before hiking back and we couldn't have asked for a better venue!

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

Jennifer Broome Explorer

I'm the traveling weather chick. I'm a television meteorologist, host and reporter based in Denver. I'm a weather expert and travel expert. I'm also a travel writer. I love travel, weather, adventure, outdoors, food, wine, fitness, hiking, skiing, and yoga.

Are we missing something? Suggest an edit

Nearby Adventures

Hike the Sugar Bowl Loop in Kings Canyon NP

Tulare County, California

First and foremost, to get to this trailhead you need to drive down a 2-mile, one lane dirt road that is quite steep.

7 Saves

Hike to Ehukai Pillbox

59178 Ke Nui Road, Hawaii

This hike starts directly across from Banzai Pipeline, the famous barreling wave at Ehukai Beach.

7 Saves

Winter Hike to Calypso Cascades

1046 County Highway 115, Colorado

While most people go snowshoeing near the Bear Lake or Glacier Gorge area in RMNP, Wild Basin is a much less trafficked option.

5 Saves