Hike to Mad Creek Barn

Colorado Mad Creek Trailhead

Added by Jennifer Broome

  • 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

Water Snacks Water shoes if you want to get in creek Camera

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Hiking, Mountain Biking, Photography, Running

Skill Level:



Summer, Autumn



Family Friendly

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How to Get There

22 days ago

Stunning Hike

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!

22 days ago

Added by Jennifer Broome

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.

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