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8 Tips for Choosing a Hiking Trail

Steamboat and the surrounding area has some of the best hiking in Colorado. From expert to beginner trails, there is truly something for everyone. Here are eight tips for choosing the perfect trail for you.

Know your timeframe

Think about how much time you have. Are you looking for a morning activity, trying to burn off some toddler energy or interested in making a whole day of it? Look at mileage and consider how long the whole thing will take before you start.

Find a trail that everyone in your group can do

Nothing ruins a hike faster than realizing you chose a trail that’s way too hard for your six year old. Are you hiking with elderly parents or young children? Do some research ahead of time to find a trail that will work for everyone you’re with. Luckily, there are tons of options in the area. Grab a copy of Hiking the Boat II to find the perfect trail for you and your group.

What gear do you have?

If you have a toddler in a stroller or a baby on your back, you aren’t going to want something too steep, nothing too rocky and probably not a trail where you have to balance on a log to cross over a stream. Consider what – or who – you’re hiking with make sure the trail is stroller-friendly.

The Core Trail is always an easy stroll with a stroller.

Consider the time of day

Summer afternoons in Steamboat can get HOT. If you’re looking to do a longer, more strenuous hike, consider doing it in the morning before 10 am, when temps are cooler. On the flip side, once the sun starts going down, the temperature can drop drastically and you might want to bring an extra layer. If you can’t get out in the morning, consider hiking in the early evening, while there is still plenty of light but when it’s cooler. In the fall and winter, make sure you know what time the sun sets so that you don’t get stuck in the dark.

What season is it?

Trail conditions vary from season to season. Springtime in Steamboat brings mud. Oftentimes, hikers are asked to stay off certain trails while they dry out. Be aware of what trails are open and remember that you may get wet or muddy in certain places.

Think about elevation gain

Elevation gain is one factor that determines how difficult a hike is. If you’re not used to the high mountain altitudes, choose a trail that doesn’t have a drastic elevation gain. No matter what, make sure to bring plenty of water.

Off the beaten path….or not?

Some trails are more crowded than others – especially the ones that are easily accessible from downtown Steamboat. Going farther afield will ensure that you are not following right in the footsteps of another group.

Do you have a dog?

Bring a leash! Many trails in Steamboat require dogs to be leashed. If this isn’t right for you or your pup, find a trail where the dog can run free.

Be choosy on which trails you choose for your dog – and be respectful of others on the trail.

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