Tucked away in a quiet area of Colorado in Routt National Forest, just south of the Wyoming border, sits a seemingly insignificant mountain: Hahn’s Peak.
At just 10,774 feet in elevation, it pales in comparison to the 14er’s throughout the state.
But this peak is something special. A quick hike to the top and you won’t feel like you’re at 10,800 feet any longer. The summit offers vast 360 degree views of the surrounding area, complete with a large body of water, lush forests, and memorizing horizons.
Not to mention the great dispersed camping with a lack of overcrowding and miles of forest roads. Camping near Hahn’s Peak is an adventure that’s worth the extra distance.
Hike and Summit
The main trailhead for Hahn’s Peak sits on the western side of the mountain. Take Co Road 129 north from Steamboat Springs, and turn right onto Forest Road 490.
The trailhead is past the second split to the left, and is about three cars wide and has one small sign. There is some private land in the area, so be respectful and watch out for the signage.
If you’re more adventurous and have a vehicle or toy capable of some light off-roading, there are a bunch of forest roads along the northwest side of Hahn’s Peak. From Steamboat Springs, take Co Road 129 up to Forest Road 413.
We camped in there and loved the seclusion, then hiked around the mountain to the main trailhead.
It’s 3.6 miles from Hahn’s Peak trailhead to the summit. It’s steep and the footing isn’t perfect. It took us about an hour and half to reach the top. The first part of the trail snakes through a lightly forested area. Large ponderosa pines dot the area, as well as some affected by the pine beetle (not enough to ruin the area).
When you are about a half mile away from the summit, the trees fade away and the dirt ground gives way to small, unstable rocks. Lots of them. They crunch under your feet as you take each step. And slip a little bit with every move.
At some points, the drops on either side are fairly steep, but this is a wide trail with plenty of space to make a correction if something goes wrong. No knife edge here.
The top of the mountain greets you with an amazingly picturesque hut. It has an interior room at ground level, which was locked at the time we went. It’s probably is/was used for forest service purposes (fire watch most likely) at times.
It has a second story with a wrap-around balcony and an enclosed patio space in the middle, which was accessible and offered a great place to hang out and get some great photos.
The views are incredible. 360 degrees with Steamboat lake to the south and an entire panorama of mountain tops in the distance, wrapping all the way around Hahn’s Peak.
In the late spring or early summer, the color is a spectacular shade of green. The aspens in the area bring amazing fall colors as well.
Characteristics of the Area
Going north of Steamboat takes you pretty far away from major developed areas. Nearly 4 hours from Denver, 2.5 from Summit County, and no major metropolis around. Forget about crowds.
The land is fairly low elevation and doesn’t have a lot of rocky cliffs or other steep formations, but there is a good amount of vegetation and these are still the Rocky Mountains so camping near Hahn’s Peak offers a lot.
We stayed in a beautiful aspen grove, with tons of small streams flowing through as the spring melt occurred. Mature ponderosa pines encompass the area, with trunks well over 12” in diameter, reaching admirable heights. Some of the pines have been hit with beetle kill, but it wasn’t completely ravaged.
The amount of forest roads and dispersed camping near Hahn’s Peak really sets this area apart. North of Hahn’s peak, there is a webbing of forest roads throughout the area with very little private lands or restrictions anywhere around.
Some of the roads will be difficult to cross and may be accessible by 4-wheel-drive only, but if you can get out there, I’d check it out.
Lakes and Recreation
Hahn’s Peak Lake is a fairly small lake tucked away between two forested mountains, and a small developed campground onsite. You can find more information on the Routt National Forest website and make reservations on recreation.gov.
There is dispersed (free) camping along the road that runs next to Hahn’s Peak Lake and in many areas nearby. Fishing is popular. Nice little getaway.
Steamboat Lake State Park is a lake with over a thousand acres of water surface and it’s visible from the top of Hahn’s Peak. The daily entrance fee is $7 currently and you must stay at a developed site, starting at $20 per night.
It is also a Park, not the Forest, so there will be specific Park regulations to abide by. There are more activities and amenities: rental areas, lodges serving food and drink, boats, and more.
Hahn’s Peak and the trails around it are open year-round. The top can develop a pretty solid base of snow during the winter, which could last well into spring. Plenty of backcountry skiers, snowboarders, snowshoers, and snowmobilers can be found here.
There is a large area at the base of the peak which is suggested to be a non-motorized use only. As always, make sure to take a good look at the posted signs before playing!
The trails and roads attract four wheelers of all sorts. There is a large parking lot at the intersection of Co Road 129 and Forest Road 413. The roads there are passable with a decent ruck or jeep though. You can even take a dirt bike all the way up the mountain, close to the summit.
Camping Near Hahn’s Peak
Hahn’s Peak is a small, unassuming mountain that can make for a great little getaway. A quick hike gets you to spectacular views from a historic summit hut. The area around offers a variety of vegetation, including pine and aspen forests, lush wildflower meadows, and lots of creeks and small waterways.
Finally, you will find plenty of trails for recreation in the summer or winter, along with any lake activity you could want from a scenic, quiet spot at Hahn’s Peak Lake, to the busier and activity filled adventures that await at Steamboat Lake State Park.
And one of my favorite parts of camping near Hahn’s Peak is on the way home. Stop in Steamboat. Take a dip at Strawberry Hot Springs, our absolute favorite, or float in the Yampa River.
And don’t forget to grab a beer along the river when you’re done (Sunpie’s Bistro is a nice little dive with a great outdoor area on the water).
Kristina soaking in the view along with our final meal (breakfast) before leaving the campsite. Image by Off Path Travels.
Take the extra drive and go to Routt National Forest and go camping near Hahn’s Peak. Get out there and get Off Path!
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