One of the first trails to dry out after ski season, Mad Creek is especially popular with hikers and mountain bikers in late spring and early summer. The 1.5-mile trail follows Mad Creek into Mount Zirkel Wilderness Area north of Steamboat Springs. The hike offers canyon views and nearly 100 types of Alpine wildflowers.
Mad Creek Barn
The first section of trail is exposed to sun and can be strenuous at times, but it’s well worth it when you arrive at the more than 100-year-old Mad Creek barn, which was built in the early 1900s as a U.S. Forest Service homestead. Hikers can feel free to explore the barn, which was restored in 2001, and even climb a wooden ladder into the loft.

Hike Up and Back or Take the Loop
Once you have reached the barn, this halfway point in the hike is a great place to stop, eat lunch and dip your feet in the cool waters of Mad Creek. When you’re ready to head back down the trail, consider exploring new terrain by heading upstream from the barn, turning left at the Y and descending on Red Dirt Trail, which ends about a mile up the road from the Mad Creek trailhead. Choosing the loop option will turn a 3-mile roundtrip hike into about 10 miles total, so be sure you’re prepared for the extra distance.
From U.S. Highway 40, head north on Routt County Road 129 west of Steamboat Springs. Find the trailhead on your right after 5.5 miles.

Mad Creek

• 3 miles round trip
• 440-foot elevation gain
• About 2 hours

Mad Creek/Red Dirt loop

• 10 miles round trip
• 1,840-foot elevation gain
• About 5.5 hours
Forest Service

For specific trail information and conditions contact the U.S. Forest Service of the Routt National Forest by calling

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