The Fish Creek Falls Trail is a versatile adventure outing in the Steamboat Springs area. It is undoubtedly a great option for those seeking an escape from the bustling ski resort or an alternative in poor ski conditions, but is well worth a dedicated half-day of adventure. The waterfalls, aspen groves, and canyon are a pleasure to explore any time of year, but they can be especially enjoyable when blanketed with snow.
The trail is an out-and-back, and it can be tailored for length. For those seeking a quick outing, the lower and more impressive set of falls is just a short distance from the parking lot. From the low point of the first falls, the trail will climb 1,400 feet over a distance of 2 miles to reach the upper falls. Along the way, it will pass through beautiful aspen groves, wind along the tranquil Fish Creek Canyon, and provide spectacular views west toward the Yampa Valley. Shortly after the second bridge crossing, an exposed traverse will need to be navigated in order to reach the upper falls. Depending on snow conditions, a fall here could have serious consequences.
With recent snow fall, snowshoes or skis will be essential. During periods of little new snow accumulation the trail becomes quite packed down, and boots are sufficient to travel all the way to the second bridge crossing. Adventurous fat bike enthusiasts also make use of the trail during these periods. The trail is frequented by cross-country skiers traveling in both directions. The south side of the canyon offers some great side country skiing opportunities out of bounds from the Steamboat resort, and downhill traffic is common when traveling on this side of the canyon.
A nearby trail can also be taken to explore the abandoned Fish Creek Falls Mine. This 20th-century uranium mine is a relic of the Cold War arms race.
Winter backcountry adventures can be dangerous outdoor activities that pose significant risks as conditions affecting safety (i.e. weather, snowpack stability, avalanche hazard) are constantly changing. Prior to engaging in these activities each individual should get the proper training to make safe decisions and be equipped to use avalanche safety resources and tools. Please visit our Backcountry Skiing and Avalanche Safety post to learn more.