One of the few hiking-only trails on Mount Werner, Thunderhead Trail provides runners with awesome views of downtown Steamboat, the ski area's base and the south valley. Additionally, the springtime wildflowers are consistently beautiful.
This well-designed trail takes runners from the base of the mountain all the way to top of the gondola. However, most will ride the gondola to the top, then run down - the views are the same either way! Alternatively, one could run this trail as an out and back from the base.
From the gondola, the trail starts just south of the Thunderhead Food Court going west. Follow the trail as it transitions from open ski trail to deep woods singletrack. Once in the woods, Thunderhead winds through the trees immediately giving it a backcountry feel.
Shortly after this wooded stint, the trail contours across Mt. Werner to the north and crosses two winter ski trails. Be sure to stop and take in the awesome views of the south valley, especially from Valley View ski trail.
Continue down the mountain as the trail utilizes multiple nicely built switchbacks to gently descend the mountain. That's not to say that this trail isn't hard. Especially on hot summer days, Thunderhead gets little respite from the Steamboat sun - be prepared with water and sunscreen!
At approximately 1.9mi into your journey Thunderhead intersects with Valley View
. To stay on Thunderhead continue southwest, past the mid-mountain operation buildings, then back into the woods as the trail winds its way north.
Once again, you'll pop out of the woods, and from here the trail becomes doubletrack. Continue north, intersect Valley View
, then head west on the final section of trail. From here on out the trail is out of the woods, providing great views of Steamboat Springs. Bypass Headwall Trail
on your right and head all the way down to the ski area base operations.
You'll find multitudes of wildflowers come spring, especially in late June. Keep an eye out for lavender ballhead waterleaf and peppermint striped onions.