OverviewEmerald Mountain, also known as Quarry Mountain is the rounded mountain mass west of Steamboat Springs Colorado. While the USGS Maps use the name Quarry Mountain, all the locals, and most other maps refer to the mountain as Emerald Mountain.
The mountain is very popular for hiking, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, mountain biking, and horseback riding, most of which users are local. Although there is a service road leading to the radio tower on top, it is closed to unauthorized vehicles and many well marked trails also reach the summit and various other points on the mountain.
Emerald Mountain could be considered the easternmost extent of the Williams Fork Mountains. It is not a rugged mountain, but is thickly forested and receives a high amount of snowfall for its elevation. Access is easy and popular year round, but the trails are occasionally closed for a few weeks in spring and fall when they are muddy.
The east summit of Emerald Mountain has a marked elevation of 8252 feet. It is adorned with a radio tower. The west summit does not have a marked elevation and by contour lines is 8240 feet to 8280 feet. It is adorned with an FAA aircone and is known as Air Cone Point. I do not know which summit is higher. Incidentally, the FAA facility is gated and has no public access.
Getting ThereRoutt Street Trailhead
From the west side of Steamboat Springs at Lincoln Avenue/Highway 40 in Steamboat Springs, turn west on on 13th Street. After a short distance, turn left onto Gilpin Street and then left onto Saratoga Avenue (which becomes Fairview Drive). Take the first right to Routt Street and park at the marked trailhead.
Howelsen Hill Trailhead
From Lincoln Avenue/Highway 40 in Steamboat Springs turn west on 5th Street, cross the river on the bridge, and turn right on Howelsen Parkway which leads to the trailhead. There are actually several trailheads in this complex. See the map under Routes Overview.
Routes OverviewThere are many trails to the summit and around the mountain.
The easiest route to the summit is the closed service road also known as the Blackmere Trail and Lane of Pain (apparently named with the mountain bikers in mind as it isn’t that hard of a climb).
Many other trails can be used to reach the summit, all of which are usually well marked. See the map below for all the officially marked trails.
Red TapeAll trails are for non-motorized use only. This is a very popular area, so make sure to tread lightly. No hunting is allowed at any time of year. Make sure to clean up after your dogs as this is becoming a problem at times and irresponsibility could lead to more regulations.
When to ClimbThis is a really good year round destination. On some summer afternoons, the weather can be a bit warm, so get an early start. Since the elevation really isn’t that high, this is a popular hiking destination when the higher mountains are snowed in. Occasionally in spring and fall the trails can be closed for a few weeks due to mud.
Winter is a great time of year to climb Emerald Mountain and the trails are usually well packed. There is usually no avalanche danger on the peak, so this is a fun and safe climb when other mountains have dangerous avalanche conditions.
During hunting season, this is a great place for hikers, bikers, and horseback riders to come because hunting isn’t allowed and thus it is a safe destination.
CampingThe mountain is for day use only. There are private campgrounds around Steamboat Springs as well as many campgrounds in the surrounding national forest lands and state parks.
Some of the more popular campgrounds are near Rabbit Ears Pass along Highway 40 (Dumont Lake, Walton Creek, and Meadows Campgrounds), Stagecoach State Park, Steamboat Lake State Park, and Pearl Lake State Park.
Mountain ConditionsCLICK HERE FOR WEATHER FORECAST
Below is the National Weather Service Climate Summary of Steamboat Springs. The data is from 1908-2012. This is the closest long term weather station, but be aware that higher elevations will be slightly wetter and colder. Steamboat Springs is at 6695 feet elevation, so expect the temperatures on Emerald Mountain to be 4-5 degrees colder than in Steamboat (except for cold winter nights when the valley floors are usually colder).
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