This route starts out with a 4.5-mile climb that has a few challenging pitches, but the surface is true Colorado "champagne gravel" (smooth and almost as fast as pavement- a marketing play off of Steamboat Springs Ski Resort's signature “champagne powder”). The scenery is picturesque ranch land, and while you are marveling at the scenery, the climb is over before you know it!
The Willow Creek Trail within Steamboat Lake State Park is really the gem of this route! It is a fun 3.5-mile section of easy single track that gets you down close to the water and gives you some incredible views across the lake. It even goes through a few small aspen groves, and in the summer, wildflowers were abundant.
The whole route is quintessential rural Routt County gravel: Great dirt road surfaces, lots of happy horses and cows, courteous drivers, friendly residents, and beautiful views of mountains, ranch land, and water. You really can't beat it!
There really aren't any lows for us on this route although our least favorite part of the route was the stretch of pavement between Steamboat Lake and the Clark General store. It is the section where you will see the most cars traveling at the highest speeds, but honestly traffic was incredibly light on a Friday afternoon and scenery is still beautiful.
We originally thought there were some trails around Pearl Lake that we could explore, but although they do allow bikes on them, they were definitely more for mountain bikes. We didn't make it very far due to big tree roots and large rocks. Bummer.
Do this ride if you are close to Steamboat Springs and you want a delightful, fun and beautiful gravel ride. We were in town for the SBT GRVL race and it was a perfect "shake out" ride!
We parked and started at the Clark General Store, which is about a 25-minute drive from downtown Steamboat Springs. There is a big public parking lot, as the store serves as a general store, eatery, coffee house, post office, and community hub for residents of north Routt County. You can stop in to pick up supplies, fill water bottles, and use the bathroom here during their business hours.
This route goes into two Colorado State Parks and it technically does require a fee to enter by bike. More info here. Day passes are $4 or you can use your annual state park pass.
You'll find bathrooms along the route at the Steamboat Lake State Park Campgrounds: Dutch Hill Campground around mile 10.8, and at the Sunrise Vista Campground around mile 12.
Pearl Lake State Park is an out-and-back portion of the route. There are bathrooms, camping sites, and picnic tables here (mile 19.4)
We did this as a "shake out" ride when we arrived in Steamboat Springs 2-days before the STB GRVL race. It was a perfect distance to do after a 3-hour car drive the night before. And it was not so challenging that it wore us out for race day. (You can find the 2021 STB GRVL 64-mile "Red Course" route here.)