“Do you think you are up for another ride?” Rob asked me this, but I could tell from his eyes that he wasn’t up for another ride that day. I know I sure wasn’t. We had ridden all of the trails on the mountain, including the new trails on Pony Express Ridge and Creekside – some of the best rides that I have done all year- but all I wanted to do was lie down and eat everything in sight. We settled for elk burgers and ice cream, but were eager to get back to the trails the next day.
It wasn’t like I hadn’t ridden in Steamboat before. Just last summer Rob and I rode a ton of trails, including the truly epic Divide Trail, where you get to end the trail at the base of the mountain for a cold beer. Before that, I had explored most of the in town trail network with my brother, ending each foray with a swim in in the Yampa River.
But Steamboat keeps upping the ante. There were miles of new trails on Howelsen and one more epic loop we wanted to check off the list. We managed the Howelsen lap the next day – the NPR (no pedaling required) downhill was fun and flowy with confidence inspiring tabletops and supportive berms, but saved the best for last.
Fish Creek falls is a special place. On river left, a bunch of epic winter sidecountry runs come down. For those powdery turns, you need to really know where you are going, else you end up at the top of a hundred foot cliff and a very expensive evacuation. The lower section of the falls itself is run at high water by only the most extreme kayakers. On river right is a hiking trail that happens to be open to bikers. I think that is the best way to describe it. In order to access the trail on a bike, Rob and I biked up the ski area, a serious endeavor, as the winding road had just had a new layer of soft gravel put down making most of the switchback impossible. Once at the top, we traversed along the Divide Trail, and took the turn towards the Falls Trail.
The trail started off innocently enough, if not a little overgrown, then a few technical sections started cropping up. Pretty soon the technical sections at the top seemed easy compared to the ones we were hitting now. Hikers started cropping up once we were in sight of the river, wondering how in the world bikers had managed to get up there. One exclaimed, “That takes balls!” as Rob rolled down another steep slab of chunder.
Towards the falls the exposure got a bit much for me, and I spent a lot of that section hike-a-biking, but the views were wondrous and easier to look at when I wasn’t giving my handlebars the death grip. The ride ended with a spin from town back home, and even though we were ending another Steamboat visit, we hadn’t even touched the new Buff Pass Trails. Just another reason to keep coming back!