Roadtrip to the Rockies: Thunderhead Trail

  • Thunderhead Trail
  • Distance:  3.3 miles (longer on map provided by the ski mountain)
  • Type: Moderate, Point to Point
  • Elevation Gain: 1,322 ft
  • Other: Toilets Available, Dogs Allowed, Parking Fee, Gondola Fee (uphill only)
  • All Trails Link

Thunderhead Trail is the most popular hiking route on Mount Werner, the ski mountain in Steamboat Springs.  The point to point trail travels 3.3 miles from the base of the mountain to the summit. 

Gondola and Parking

No worries, those who don’t want to hike up may take the gondola for a moderate trek down.  Of course, the gondola ride requires a $30 ticket purchase.  Though riding the gondola down is free.

There is also a parking fee in the covered garage, so hiking Thunderhead Trail can become pricey.  Having said that, it is a nice touristy thing do in Steamboat Springs.  The ski mountain also offers other activities from dining to shopping to mini golf, so make a day of visiting.

Thunderhead Trail (Downhill)

This post describes Thunderhead Trail from the summit down.  Upon exiting the gondola, the trailhead may be found to the right.  Before embarking on the hike, however, take a moment to admire the views on the left-hand side of the summit or from the restaurant.

lunch on the summit of Mt. Werner

Upon descending the trail, hikers quickly enter the shaded forest, much of which is aspen groves.  The terrain changes between aspen groves, scrub oak and sage, and grassy ski runs blanketed in wildflowers as it descends the mountain.

Beginning of Thunderhead Trail
beginning area under restoration

One of the most prevalent wildflowers on Thunderhead Trail is the wild rose.  The peak season for this flower is at the end of June, but more flowers will bloom at the high elevation in July. 

The trail criss-crosses the ski run beneath the gondola and intersects other paths.  It is best to have a paper map that may be obtained at the base of the mountain or to use All Trails, as the signage is lacking in the downhill direction.

Annie and the girls on Thunderhead Trail

Gaining 2,155 feet over 3.3 miles, Thunderhead Trail is relatively steep and is considered hard in the upward direction.  Descending is easier, but the short trail will still take a few hours to complete with photo ops and some rest in the shade.

looking down on steamboat from Thunderhead Trail

The bottom portion of the trail is somewhat exposed, so hike early and bring sunscreen, bug spray, and water.  ETB

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Beth Bankhead

Former public finance professional turned travel photographer and blogger.

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