With days getting longer and temperatures getting warmer, it’s almost time to swap out your skis for hiking boots. Spring hiking is often unpredictable and scarce due to snowfall. Accordingly, these five hikes keep it local and low in elevation. Be sure to pack crampons, layers, and snowshoes as needed to enjoy these trails.
Depending on snowmelt, many hikes aren’t accessible until early in the summer season. Please note and respect seasonal trail closures to preserve muddy trails.
1) Quarry via Blackmere, Frontside of Emerald
Explore the frontside of Emerald via the Blackmere Trail on a 4 mile out and back.
For a direct route, park at the Blackmere Trailhead and follow the main service road 2 miles up to the Quarry overlook. Enjoy the steady climb on easy terrain for a beautiful view of the valley and Mt. Werner.
The spring view of the resort & valley is quite breathtaking for an easy, close-to-town hike.
2) Fish Creek to Long Lake
This long out and back trail totals 12.3 miles from the Fish Creek Falls parking lot. The first three miles are strenuous and well-trafficked, but the trail levels out and quiets down past the Upper Falls. The meandering and long route makes this spot great for trail running when the snow has cleared.
Be sure to pack bug repellant so you can enjoy the upper lake before you turn around and make the trek back. Trail conditions in this area vary significantly year-by-year; pack appropriate footwear, snowshoes, and poles to avoid postholing past the Upper Falls.
You’ll find parts of the Fish Creek falls trail very easy & flat, but other areas are steeper & rockier – it’s as hard you want it to be 🙂
3) Thunderhead Trail, Mt. Werner
From the base of Mt.Werner to the top of the gondola—this tough but rewarding trail takes you 4.1 miles one-way, up a hiker-only trail. This trail includes steep singletrack, zigzagging switchbacks, and the occasional meadow clearing or ski run crossing.
At the top, enjoy views of the ski resort and downtown, with the option of riding the gondola down during operating hours to save you the 4.1 miles down.
Due to the quick elevation gain, this trail is best trafficked late spring, and be sure to wait until the resort has closed for the ski season.
4) Hot Springs Trail
A 6.2 mile hike that includes the option of enjoying a hot springs pit stop as well!
The trailhead can be difficult to find: park at the Mad Creek Trailhead and walk south back towards town on the RCR129. After a few hundred yards turn left after post 44320, on a footpath to a private road. Pass two cattle gates and follow signs to the Hot Springs. The hike includes a lot of shade, and gradually gains elevation on a primarily singletrack trail.
If you are planning on swimming at Strawberry Park Hot Springs, be sure to make a reservation beforehand and leave enough time to hike back!
5) Beall & Ridge Trail, Backside of Emerald
This singletrack loop is often less busy than the frontside of Emerald. To get to the trailhead when leaving town, pass the Library on your left and follow 13th until it becomes Co Rd 33. Turn left onto Co Rd 45 until you get to the parking lot. This loop totals 13 miles, and along your route you’ll find stunning views of Rabbit Ears and the Flat Tops. Be sure to watch for bikers, as this is a popular bike route!