Steamboat's Fish Creek Falls a wondrous site

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It is little wonder why thundering Fish Creek Falls is one of Routt County's most popular attractions every summer and fall.

The 283-foot waterfall that greets visitors with a cool mist is the centerpiece of an easily accessible recreation area dotted with picnic tables, interpretive signs and challenging and scenic hiking trails.

"There's just lots to do," said Larry DeAndrade, recreation program coordinator for the U.S. Forest Service, which manages the Fish Creek Falls area. "It's a good family area."

Fish Creek Falls is approximately four miles from downtown Steamboat Springs. Fish Creek Falls Road, located behind the city's main post office at Third Street and Lincoln Avenue, will take visitors all the way to the Fish Creek Falls parking lots. Both the upper and lower lots require a $5 vehicle fee, which can be made at fee boxes at the lots.

There are a variety of hiking options from the parking lot. The first -- and easiest -- is a lass than one-mile roundtrip hike to an overlook of the falls. The path is paved and easily accessible for children and people with disabilities. Interpretive signs along the way can transform the walk into a fun and quick lesson about the area's history, geology and biology.

The hike to the base of the falls also starts from the parking lot, but quickly winds down a hill to the scenic footbridge over Fish Creek. During spring, the roar of the falls and the torrent of water sprays the bridge with a cool refreshing mist.

The upper falls hike is a five-mile roundtrip that rewards hikers with views of Steamboat and the less crowded upper Fish Creek Falls, which though smaller than the main waterfall, is still a beautiful sight. For those who are in good shape and adequately prepared, the trail extends past the upper falls and on to Long Lake. A roundtrip hike to Long Lake is about 12 miles from the parking lot area.

Other hikes, such as a trail to the Uranium Mines, can also be made from the Fish Creek Falls area. n

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