Swamp Park National Recreation Trail, located in Routt National Forest in Colorado, is 20+ miles of hiking, birding, and exploring nature with your best four-legged friend. Designated a National Recreation Trail in 1980, this backcountry trail is a main trail with multiple connections along the way in case you and Fido want to end your hike early.
As its name mentions, the land is partially swampy due to the multiple creeks the trail passes through, but that doesn't stop thousands of bikers, hikers, and equestrians from traveling it every year. The peak usage months are April through September, though, so be sure to plan accordingly if you hope to avoid the crowds.
The long hike begins at Mad Creek Trailhead, which takes you along Mad Creek. Here, you'll enjoy the panoramic vista of a canyon view for slightly over a mile, at which point you'll have an opportunity to veer off onto Saddle Trail or continue to explore Swamp Park Trail into the Mount Zirkel Wilderness.
In the Mount Zirkel Wilderness section of the trail, be careful to keep Fido on the designated areas only. While biking is prohibited here, there are wild animals and potentially poisonous vegetation to avoid.
Continuing along the trail through the wilderness will take you past Elk Park Trail and back across Mad Creek, at which time the elevation steadily increases as you go through multiple switchbacks and past Red Dirt Trail. This pattern repeats as you leave the wilderness, enter open areas again, and then re-enter the wilderness to take you past Luna Lake Trail and back across Mad Creek and into Swamp Park.
The trail continues through multiple steep inclines and drops until you reach the Burn Ridge Trailhead. Water is available throughout multiple sections along the way.
Getting there from the main highway is an easy drive -- simply stay on Highway 40 West of Steamboat Springs. In two miles, you will turn north onto Elk River Road. Staying on that road for five miles will take you to the entrance of Routt National Forest. Camping is available in this area if you are interested!