25 June 2015

Hiking Upper Fish Creek Falls in Steamboat Springs Colorado

Fish Creek Falls
Amazing sites and a steep hike topped our day yesterday as we hiked Upper Fish Creek Falls in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

Our hike started off easy with a 1/4 mile hike to an overlook for viewing the beautiful Fish Creek Falls where we snapped photos and stood in awe of the 300 foot waterfall. Refreshed, happy, and at ease with the start of our hike, five of us continued on with the next section of the hike to the first bridge about a 1/2 mile in on a gravel trail. We stopped to look at signs about the various trails and determined that we would hike above the falls, taking us slightly closer to the Continental Divide Trail (since reading about people thru-hiking the trail last year, I've been curious about how close we could get when we ventured to Colorado).

This also provided an opportune learning time for my sons to ask about the Continental Divide. What better way to learn this aspect of geography than hiking within miles of the Great Divide of North America?

From there we began our hike upward on a moderate to difficult hike slowly and steadily gaining elevation. After another 1/2 mile, two members of our group of five decided to turn back because the incline takes a toll on unacclimated lungs. My sons, however, were determined to move forward, and I, too, wanted to challenge myself with a more rigorous heart pumping hike, so we pressed onward with the climb. After approximately 2 more miles of hiking up, we came to another bridge with more incredible views of the water and forest.
Rocky path near the top

From the second bridge we had about another 1/2 mile traverse of rocks to make it to the top of Upper Fish Creek Falls. At times, we climbed using our hands to keep us steady. Making it to the top with my sons was exhilarating (and exhausting). We spent only 10 minutes at the top before climbing back down the rocks and heading the path to the bridge and foot path to the bottom of the falls.
Climbing with our hands
The hike down took us much less time, and my oldest son, a cross-country runner, enjoyed taking the lead and hiking solo to the bottom to meet my husband and his brother who awaited us. Ever the runner and lover of outdoors, he made it to the bottom and came back up to find my younger son and me carefully working our way down the rocky pathway. Seeing him made us smile, knowing we were that much closer to the finish.
The cross-country runner taking a break to wait for us
We experienced feelings of joy, happiness, and accomplishment upon making it back to the first bridge and the bottom of the falls. Elated for the heart pumping and view inspiring experience with my sons, we walked the 1/2 mile back up hill to the parking lot. 3 1/2 hours start to finish. Total elevation 8,770 feet.
Three of us at the top

At the top