Thursday, April 27, 2017

Fish Creek Falls (Lower and Upper)

Distance: 0.5 miles round trip to the Lower Falls, 5.4 miles round trip to Upper Falls
Elevation: 1,227 ft
Elevation Gain: 7,530 ft -8,757 ft
Bathroom at Trailhead: Yes
Fees: $5/vehicle or Federal All Access Pass
Tags: #waterfall, #hiking, #coloradooutdoors, #steamboat

Fish Creek Falls near Steamboat Springs, CO
Lower Fish Creek Falls near Steamboat Springs, CO is a perennial favorite with tourists because of its dramatic setting and 280 ft drop. The lower falls can be accessed via a short 1/4 mile gravel path that most folks can access. At the bottom is a bridge over the creek that affords everyone the chance to be Ansel Adams without having to step far from the car. Spring runoff is a particularly good time to visit, just be advised you won't be alone and may have to bump a few selfie-stick holders off the bridge to get your shot.

Nearly accessible trail to the lower falls
Typical rockier segment
Upper Fish Creek Falls is 2.2 miles further up the trail and is a lovely hike for those with the ability. The route wanders in and out of Aspen groves, which makes it particularly pretty in Autumn. The falls themselves are shorter than the lower falls but are much more accessible. You can scramble right up to the base if desired or stand back for an optimal view.

Example of a softer trail segment
The day we hiked to the upper falls, it was snowing and foggy and yet there was still yellow leaves on the trees so we ended up Jekyll and Hyde'ing it between Autumn and Winter every few hundred yards. Humidity is not my friend and I grumbled because my eyeglasses kept fogging up and I expelled my breath with each lurching step upwards. The return trip was better and I could marvel and the gorge the trail follows as well as the Aspen gauntlets that had everyone cooing. Had their been puppies and kittens too, world peace would have spontaneously occurred.

Upper falls
Autumn bling
The trail to the upper falls alternates between soft trails and exposed rock, the latter of which can be quite slick when wet.

Fall colors in the fog
To get to the trailhead, travel north on third street then turn right on fish creek falls road and travel 4 miles to the trailhead. The parking lot is large but can easily fill up.

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