Summer in Steamboat, Part 2: Bike Town, USA

steamboat bike park

Our oldest rips it up at the Steamboat Bike Park.

brave ski mom logoWhat do skiing families do when the snow melts?

They bike.

As skis are to winter, bikes are to summer, especially in Steamboat. Already known as Ski Town, USA, Steamboat is well on it’s way to becoming Bike Town, USA.

When we visited with little kids, we rented bikes and spent a morning riding the Yampa River Core Trail, stopping to toss rocks into the river, watch people on tubes and rafts float by and visit the lovely Yampa River Botanic Park. We also toured many of the town’s natural springs, including the actual Steamboat spring.

yampa river botanic park

No riding in the Yampa River Botanic Park, but the flowers are worth a short wander.

This time, we rented cruisers, the perfect bikes for taking in the sights and enjoying two-wheel freedom. While the river was running too high for tubing or swimming, rafts were jostling their way through the rapids, fisherman were casting line, and once again, we made a tour of the local springs.

We also revisited the free botanic garden, which is just as lovely as I remembered, a peaceful spot for shade, a cool drink of water and a wander on trails that wind among trees, wildflowers and sculptures.

For Big Kids: Bring a bike lock and stay all day. Throw in a swimsuit and check out the swimming at the C-Hole or rent a tube and float the river. If angling is your game, don’t forget the fly rods.

fishing steamboat

There are many fishing holes along the Yampa River Core Trail.

Ski racers and history fans can follow the Olympic Heritage walking tour which starts at the Tread of Pioneers Museum and ends at the ski jumps on Howelsen Hill.

Depending upon your family’s interest in geothermal activity (our seems to be quite high), you can take a walking tour of the town’s seven springs, ending, quite happily, at the town’s Old Town Hot Springs swimming and water slide facility.

hot springs steamboat colorado

For Little Kids: The Core Trail is absolutely perfect for families. You can easily ride to the stables and alpine slide at Howelsen Hill and the town’s many restaurants. Also, check out the Amaze’n Family Fun Park, a kidtopia with mini-golf, water walkers, bungee trampolines and more, found near the southeast end of the trail, by the visitor’s center.

Cross-Country and Downhill Biking

Cruising the Core Trail is a great time, but my teens also enjoy mountain biking and downhill riding. For these two pursuits, the focus shifts to Steamboat Resort where you’ll find a maze of uphill and downhill cross-country bike trails, as well as downhill only trails, with gondola access.

steamboat bike park

Dirt is the new snow! Fast fun in the Steamboat bike park.

My family is all about the on-mountain downhill scene.

Using bikes described by a friend as “40 pound behemoths with 8 inch travel,” it’s worth renting the right bike, donning safety gear and taking a lesson. The balance on a downhill bike is different, as is the turning.  While some of the skills are transferable back to cross-country riding, the two are totally different sports.

steamboat bike park downhill biking

I took a private lesson and worked on skills, while my boys and husband took off with a guide and lapped the intermediate Rustler’s Ridge trail. When we met for lunch at Thunderhead, they were gushing about the long trails, the smooth banked corners and the fun dirt jumps.

As one of them put it, “it’s the best downhill trail I’ve been on.”

High praise, indeed.

For Big Kids: Go. Do it. Spend the money, rent the bike, take the lesson. The word on downhill biking is that it’s a lot like skiing, and for skiers missing snow, it’s awesome. We agree. Get on the dirt, feel the flow and have fun.

For Little Kids: The minimum age for lessons and downhill equipment rentals is 8. We saw families with school age kids on the cross-country trails, but don’t be tempted to take your cross country bike onto the downhill routes. Better to stick with the trails appropriate to your equipment.

steamboat river trail

Just cruising’ along…

For the Future: Steamboat has gone all in for biking, recently dedicating more than $5 million to future bike trail development. Not surprisingly, mountain bike trails are everywhere, along with outstanding road biking routes.

Pick up a Bike Town USA Bike Guide for more information.

Next: Steamboat on Water 

stand up paddle board steamboat

More on Biking: 


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