Over the weekend (and 2 extra days) we headed up to Steamboat Springs for some biking and relaxation. We’d never been there in the summer; I’d never been there at all. So we rented a condo on VRBO, took our friend Adelle with us, and set off.
Steamboat is about a 4 hour drive from here, but road construction pushed it to 4.5 hours for us. So we arrived around 1:30 on Thursday and set about getting ready to ride. Here’s a rundown of the trails we did:
Thursday afternoon: Front side of Emerald Mountain
We parked on the far end of the Rodeo lot in town and saw some guys riding up a trail. It had a map of the area so we assumed it was the way up. Here’s the problem with Steamboat’s Emerald Mountain trails: very few signs. So we climbed up, took a right onto a steeper trail, and then another right. We were sort of following signs from the cross-country trails to Emerald something or other on our way to finding the Lupine Trail. Here’s some advice: Take a map! There’s a great one in the phone book there (I know, I know…) and you can download one from their website too: www.steamboatbiketown.com
You won’t get lost; you just might not end up where you meant to. We found the Lupine Trail – signs appear about halfway up the mountain and climbed it up to the Quarry Overlook. Lupine is great for climbing as it has lots of easy switchbacks and no serious grunts. Be careful though; people bike down it and hike it too.
We made our way over to the Blair Witch trail (my FAVORITE of the front side trails) and then to MGM. When MGM sort of ended at Molly’s and a no-name trail, we took the no-name because it went the direction we needed to go. From there we just found whatever piece of singletrack going downhill we could find. All in all it was fun if a little frustrating.
Climbing on the Lupine Trail in Steamboat Springs
Friday: RESORT DH!
Friday we got a late start because we had some necessary mechanical issues to take care of. We couldn’t go bombing downhill with no back brakes! Once that was fixed, we all headed up to the Gondola area and hopped on; our bikes rode in the handy bike racks behind us and were handled with care by the staff.
First we just cruised down the fast and swooping switchbacks of Tenderfoot. This gave us a good idea of what the mountain’s trails would be like and gave us a warm-up. It was still 5 miles of downhill, even if it was an easy trail, and my calves were KILLING ME halfway down. Soon they got in the groove though and we skidded to a finish and headed up for round 2.
We promised J this time we could do some cross-country riding, so from the top we headed up Duster (basically a dirt road) then hung a left and quick right onto the Sunshine Trail. Then we climbed. and climbed. and climbed. All in all it was probably only 3 miles total (including the road) of climbing, but MAN we were tired. Then we picked up the Elk something trail and took it down to Rustler’s Ridge. Both of those were a BLAST! Rustler’s was super fun with lots of optional jumps and beautifully bermed switchbacks.
We decided 15 miles of riding meant it was time for lunch. We wanted to head back up once more after that but alas, it wasn’t meant to be. There was lightning somewhere that seemed terribly far off to us, but not to the Gondola people. Oh well! We still had fun.
Climbing on the Sunshine Trail at Steamboat Ski Resort
Saturday: Bealle, Ridge and Rotary – The backside of Emerald Mountain
On Saturday we drove waaaaay out Twenty Mile Road to Cow Camp Road (gravel) and found the trail head for the Ridge Trail. This would be our end point, so we parked here and then biked 2 miles up the gravel road to the Bealle Trail. What most people do is climb up Bealle (about 6 miles) and then go down the Ridge trail. We saw a few people going down Bealle, but we saw NO ONE headed up the Ridge trail. Bealle isn’t a bad climb at all; it’s long, but never grueling. It even has a few fun rolling sections!
Even with an exploding tire (de-laminating from the outside) we managed to ride Bealle and then take the option from Ridge onto the Rotary Trail. It only added about 1.5 miles more, but they were fun miles! At the end we sat around with cold beers, chips and twizzlers and discussed how this was definitely our most awesome day yet.
Almost at the top of the Bealle Trail at Emerald Mountain in Steamboat Springs.
Sunday: Spring Creek and home
On Sunday we made the very hard 5.6 mile climb up the Spring Creek trail. This is a popular hiking, biking and running trail. Because of that the Strava DH numbers aren’t visible. It’s considered a dangerous segment and rightly so. If you were flying down that trail and came upon a hiker or someone climbing in a blind curve, there would be major injuries.
Anyway, after the grueling climb we of course got to turn around and go right back down; that part was super fun!
Bridge 8 of 15 on the Spring Creek Trail in Steamboat Springs
All in all it was a fun weekend of biking. I hope Steamboat continues to build more trails and improve the ones they have. They’ve got a good thing started there.
Now, on to more important matters: where we ate!
Here are the 3 places I’d recommend from our trip:
1. Mahogany Ridge. By far the BEST restaurant of the trip. Great food, great beer, great bartenders and great atmosphere.
2. Sunpies Bistro. We found this local’s dive bar on Yelp and had to go. Their hushpuppies were out of this world! I loved the very laid-back and casual atmosphere too. It’s right on the Yampa River, so you can enjoy a Po’ Boy and a hurricane while watching the river roll by.
3. Old Town Pub Maybe it’s because I was famished, but the turkey wrap at this place was the best I’ve ever had. It had apple butter on it! APPLE BUTTER. Fabulous. Adelle and J both got awesome mac-n-cheese dishes and we had a great apricot beer to go with it all.
So there ya go. Steamboat. Go there. Don’t like to bike? Float the river!