Colorado 4×4 Trails- Routt County

The soaring mountains and lush valleys of the Steamboat Springs area are truly the stuff of legend, and while this paradise is tucked far up in the Northwest corner of the state, the views alone make the drive worthwhile. Luckily, there are several spectacular off-road adventures to be had with river crossings, hill climbs, and playgrounds aplenty. So pack up, get your truck checked by your local 4×4 service center, and make a weekend of it!

Here are four of the most popular 4-wheel trails in the Routt County area, and while they generally garner less challenging ratings, the vistas and elevation are sure to please beginners and veterans alike.

Deep Creek

  • Skill Level: Easy-moderate
  • Trail Length: 3.2 miles
  • Nearest City: Steamboat Springs
  • Elevation: 8,200-9,500 feet

If you are looking for an easy mellow run to test out your rig in the altitude, then head over to Deep Creek. This short run connects the two ends of the Hahn’s Peak trail, and features a mainly wide path and miles of lush aspen trees. While the majority of the trail is painless, there is a large washout area where the creek ate through a section of passable road. After a series of steep switchbacks, keep your eyes open for signs that point to the safe way around the washout: just be aware this swath is much more narrow than the main section. Once you’ve crossed over, the rest of your journey should be pretty easygoing.

From Steamboat Springs, take Highway 129 north for about 29 miles and make a right at the Forest Service Road 490 and follow the signs for Hahn’s Peak Trail. You should arrive at either of the trailheads for Deep Creek.

Circle Bar Basin

  • Skill Level: Easy
  • Trail Length: 5 miles
  • Nearest City: Steamboat Springs
  • Elevation: 7,800-8,400 feet

When it’s time to just relax and enjoy a scenic ride through the mountains, Circle Bar Basin is the place to be. While the trail is mainly flat, it serves as a quiet and secluded thoroughfare between Highway 129 and Forest Service Road 550 and can be conquered in relatively little time. This run won’t put much strain on your truck parts, but what it lacks in challenges it makes up for in views and hiking opportunities. Lots of healthy aspen trees populate the area, and the trail is wide enough for vehicles that may be passing through to and from other off-road trails in the area.

From Steamboat Springs, take Highway 129 about 32 miles north until you see the trailhead on the right.

Ellis Jeep Trail

  • Skill Level: Moderate
  • Trail Length: 17.2 miles
  • Nearest City: Steamboat Springs
  • Elevation: 8,400- 9,500 feet

The Ellis Jeep Trail is a widely discussed run in the area- one that spans for miles through the northern section of the state. Don’t let the remote location scare you away: while it may be miles and miles from any 4×4 service station, the views and obstacles are worth the trip. This trail boasts some serious dirt and mud, river crossings, and steep rocky descents, and is sure to challenge a good plenty of drivers. It is also helpful to bring a GPS unit, as the path is sometimes difficult to spot, especially in winter.

About an hour north of Steamboat Springs, the trail can be found by following Highway 129 about 30 miles north. When the pavement ends, take the right fork of the “Y” to Whiskey Park Road 550 and follow to Big Red Park. Stay on Forest Service Road 500 until you see signs for the Jeep trail.

Hahn’s Peak

  • Skill Level: Moderate
  • Trail Length: 11.6 miles
  • Nearest City: Steamboat Springs
  • Elevation: 8,100-10,400 feet

A scenic off-road sampler platter, the Hahn’s Peak trail gives you a taste of just about everything: water crossings, mud baths, rocky climbs, and breath taking vistas. The giant loop allows for several hours of exploration and is close to several other great trails in the area. The trail may be difficult to navigate in some areas due to washouts and indiscernible mountain terrain, but there are several handmade signs to help guide you around. That, and the beautiful and looming summit of Hahn’s Peak can serve as a kind of compass guide, as it is visible from all sections of the trail. Several tight squeezes and winding climbs will challenge your offroad parts, so be sure to check in with your local 4×4 service shop before making the trip.

From Steamboat Springs, take Highway 129 north about 29 miles. The trailhead is easy to spot on the right hand side, on Forest Service Road 490, just across from Columbine cabins.

If you are looking to make a weekend trip up to the Steamboat Springs area, there are plenty of trails to keep you busy. Pack your truck, bring some friends, and explore the amazing playgrounds of Routt County. After all, it’s never a bad time to give your rig a mud bath!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *