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A hike and a beer: Some of my favorite treks and brews in Steamboat Springs

Steamboat is a great place to chill, hike and grab a beer. With so many walks for all skill levels, it's the perfect place to break in your boots.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. — Steamboat Springs hikes have all sorts of interesting features: waterfalls, mountain vistas, alpine lakes — and now some repurposed parking meters. 

The Yampa Valley Community Foundation in Steamboat Springs is hoping to get help with trail maintenance from hikers. They’re using old meters so people can pull out their credit cards and make voluntary donations.

Whether you’re into plugging those meters or not, the trails around Steamboat have something for everyone, from the hiker who is looking for a stroll along a creek, to the adventurer who likes heights. 

Check out some of my favorite Steamboat hikes below — and maybe a beer pairing or two. (You earned it.)

The Zirkel Circle

This is a rad 10ish-mile loop hike that passes a couple of lakes and takes in some great views of the Zirkels. Not too tough, not too easy—it’s just right for a day out near Steamboat. On the way back into town, grab a beer at Butcherknife Brewing Company (A 10-mile hike warrants some sweet craft beer.)

Mad Creek Trail

Hike out to the Mad Creek barn (great photo location) and enjoy a quick, 4-ish mile jaunt. Take the loop back and you’ve got about a 10-mile hike on your hands. That’s the one I usually do, because I want to earn my beer at Storm Peak Brewing Company.

Rabbit Ears Peak

If you’ve driven into Steamboat, you’ve seen them. The iconic rabbit ears on top of Rabbit Ears Pass are always a welcome sight because you know you’re about to descend into Steamboat. This is a pretty chill, 5.5-mile hike roundtrip, with some nice views and flowers. Plus, the next time you drive past them you can say, “I climbed that.”

Credit: Anne Herbst

Hahn’s Peak

Need a summit hike that’s not too rough? Head north of town and climb up Hahn’s Peak. This dude used to be a volcano, so extra cool points for this 4ish-mile hike. Last time I brought it, I took my own beer and enjoyed a can of Liquid Mechanics Hop Nectar on top of the peak, while enjoying the view.

The Devil’s Causeway Loop

So, this isn’t exactly Steamboat, but it’s pretty close. Near Yampa, on the eastern side of the Flat Tops Wilderness, is a 10.6-mile loop hike that scared me so badly I occasionally have nightmares about it. But it was fun. I swear. 

The loop passes lakes and through awesome alpine tundra. It also crosses the Devil’s Causeway. That thing is 4 feet wide with sheer drop-offs on each side. I crab-walked across it, but watched someone from Wisconsin glide across it like nothing. 

The hike is awesome, the adrenaline was high and a beer was needed afterwards. Head to Mahogany Ridge Brewery in downtown Steamboat for a beer and some snacks. Best happy hour in town. Every. Single. Day.  

Credit: Anne Herbst

Fish Creek Falls (and Upper Fish Creek Falls)

Go 1/4 mile down the trail to the first falls if you’re with someone who can’t hike far, but wants to see some Colorado scenery. Head 5-ish miles (roundtrip) to the upper falls if you’re jonesing for a bit more adventure. The hike through the aspen forest is almost prettier than the falls themselves.

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