Zig Zag to Valley View to Huffman’s

Mountain Bike Trail Map with GPS Track

The Steamboat Springs Ski Area offers a variety of mountain biking fun. Downhill specialists can pay to ride the Silver Bullet Gondola up to Thunderhead, and then let gravity take them down any number of trails. If you are looking for a good climb, then this is the place for you. The ride described here ascends to Thunderhead via the Zig Zag,Valley View, and Huffman’s trails. I took the main road back down because I was ‘done for the day’, but this route makes a great out and back ride. The ride as described is 10.1 miles long and climbs just over 2000 feet in about 5.4 miles.

Waypoint 1 Icon From the base of the ski area, head northeast along the Zig Zag Trail (a four wheel drive road at this point). There will be condominiums on your left as you climb away from the base area and into the woods. Watch for a singletrack trail on your right about 0.94 miles into the ride.

Waypoint 2 Icon Turn right off Zig Zag Trail onto the single track. This trail tees into the Valley View trail. Head left (up the mountain) when you reach the Valley View Trail.

Waypoint 3 Icon I paused at Waypoint 3 to check out the view down the mountain. At this point the trail changes its general direction and heads south, keeping the steeper slopes of the mountain on your left.

Looking down ski run

Waypoint 3: Looking Down Ski Run

Waypoint 4 Icon At Waypoint 4, you are under the gondola cables. You’ve climbed a fair amount, but look up and you see that you have a long way to go to get to Thunderhead, the top of the gondoloa.

Looking Up To Thunderhead / Top of Gondola

Waypoint 4: Looking up to the top of the gondola

Keep climbing. Shortly after waypoint four the trail narrows and enters the woods. Most of the leaves were down when we rode this, but a month or so earlier in the season and this section is much more scenic.

Waypoint 5 Icon After Waypoint 5 you get a nice break from the climb. The trail wraps around the southern edge of the mountain and ends with a (very) brief descent to an access road at Waypoint 6. This is the end of the Valley View Trail, but not the end of the ride.

Single Track In Aspen

Waypoint 5: Single track in aspen on Valley View Trail

Waypoint 6 Icon On the road, it’s back to the climb! If you like, you can climb on the road all the way to Thunderhead, the top of the gondola. But my local guide would have none of that when there is single track to ride.

Waypoint 7 Icon
Take a single track trail leaving the left side of the road; this is Huffman’s Trail.

Jon Wade on Single Track In Aspen

Waypoint 8: Jon Wade on single track in aspen on Huffman’s Trail

Waypoint 8 Icon
Here is a photo of Huffman’s Trail shortly after leaving the road. Depending on how much the climb has taken out of you, this section is either a tough climb to the finish or just ‘more of the ride’.

The position of the afternoon autumn sun was not conducive to photos showing a view of the valley from the trail, so I shaded the camera with a tree and went for more of a ‘this is a nature scene’ photo than a ‘behold, the valley vista’ photo.

Valley View Through Trees

Waypoint 8: Valley view through trees on Huffman’s Trail

Waypoint 9 Icon
Finally, Thunderhead… From this spot you have a sweeping view of the lower ski area below you and the Yampa valley beyond. Since that photo was not in the cards, I present this one taken looking to the north.

Steamboat Springs Ski Area, view from top of gondola

Waypoint 9: View from top of gondola

As mentioned above, an out and back ride is a great option here because the Valley View trail is such a fun descent. I was ‘done for the day’ and coasted down the main access road. Near the bottom of the mountain, this road crosses the Zig Zag trail a little ways above where we turned off of it earlier. I picked up the Zig Zag trail and took that back to the base area. That’s it!

Here is a gpx file contianing the gps tracks and waypoints shown in the trail map at the top of the page.