Trail of the week: T-Bar
It’s hard to find a trail less traveled in Steamboat Springs, but T-bar might be it.
The trail is one of the newest in Steamboat, getting signage and proper drainage in 2018. It runs somewhat parallel to Blackmer on Emerald Mountain, providing a steeper and straighter route to the Quarry. T-Bar is a mile long, cutting through a few other trails, so keep your eyes and ears open for cyclists or other hikers.
Finding the trail is easy. Head up Blackmer and shortly after passing the Orton Trail, there will be a big brown sign for T-Bar, the mountain’s sole foot traffic-only trail. T-Bar is to hikers as NPR is to mountain bikers.
The bottom of the route is exposed, and the grass is crispy. The farther up you climb, the greener the surroundings get. T-Bar was over before I knew it, but that might have been because my dog Dallas was all but running up it.
The trail ends when it reaches Blair Witch. The sign at the top instructs people to take a left to get to the Quarry lookout area. Blair Witch was shady and cool and the lushest part of the hike yet, with bright yellow flowers below and thick green leaves above, blocking the early afternoon sun.
Despite completing my hike before noon, I got some color on my shoulders. Many trails on Emerald are partially exposed, but Blackmer and T-Bar are very exposed. Maybe consider being smarter than this pale, Irish girl and put on some sunscreen, even if it’s the morning.
The Quarry provides wide-angle views of downtown Steamboat, with Steamboat Resort front and center. Dallas and I took a few summit selfies as one must and started our descent down Blackmer.
We took a detour to check out the new Prayer Flag Trail, a short, zippy trail that few took since it was poorly constructed down the middle of a meadow. Now, the city of Steamboat Springs and Rocky Mountain Youth Corps are making a more sustainable trail through the trees next to the existing trail.
About halfway down, a biker warned us a moose was on the trail. I looped Dallas’ leash around him to keep him closer and controlled.
I had been wary of moose the whole morning, wearing just one headphone and keeping my podcast on low volume. I’ve never had a hairy encounter with a moose while hiking with Dallas, and I was determined to keep it that way.
Sure enough, just down the hill, a midsize female moose stood in the trail. She hovered at the entrance of Larry’s like a leggy troll demanding a fee or at least an anxiety-inducing stare down. A biker, trying to complete his descent down NPR, granted her wish, staring at her as he slowly rolled towards NPR. When he got close, he turned sharply and flew downhill, leaving me and an approaching biker to evaluate the situation. I decided to head down Lupine, which conveniently split off Blackmer right above the moose.
Whenever you’re biking or walking on Emerald, remember that moose love it up there just as much as we do. No matter what your mode of transportation or what direction you’re traveling, moose have the right of way.
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