The Steamfont Mountains are a very dangerous place, probably the most dangerous area on Faydwer that you might find yourself travelling on your own. It is a relatively large zone with several distinct areas, and only one newbie type of area some distance from the gnome city, Ak'Anon. Most of the areas of these mountains are filled with creatures deadly to someone of less than 6th level.
Steamfont Mountains are, as I've stated, about as dangerous as Crushbone itself. Most of the creatures are of very high level and are very aggressive, especially in the area around the minotaur caves. The area around the entrance to Lesser Faydark is good for hunting if you are at least 6th level in a group, 8th-10th as a solo. There are skeletons that are aggressive and sometimes carry shields. This is also the only zone on Faydwer to obtain medium sized pelts for patchwork, but the pumas are very dangerous, roughly even with a 7th level warrior or higher. The plague rats that wander this area have a very noxious disease that is difficult to get rid of without spells. The drakes here are also quite dangerous.
An even more dangerous area exists by the minotaur caves, which you can reach by following a straight line formed by the windmills away from Ak'Anon. There is a rough dead-end valley that the minotaurs have their caves in, between two old furnaces. The ruins of some giant clockwork device have settled deeply into the ground at the end of this valley over the ages since it last functioned. The monsters that exist here are both very tough and very aggressive, the least aggressive is the obsidian drake and giant clockwork spiders, but anything else that comes within range of you will attack. Most of the monsters are avoidable if you keep your eyes peeled, but the minotaurs themselves are very deadly as they tend to go on patrol through the area and can easily be missed due to the rough floor of the valley and their speed. Adventuring through this area in a group is almost essential from 7th-10th or higher, and I've only seen 15th level and higher people going solo through this area. The minotaurs can be watched if you have a ranger in the group, as they tend to come out of the cave one at a time and stand outside. Once they reach about three outside the cave, they go on patrol. Also, the Minotaur Hero occasionally makes a run towards Ak'Anon, leaving death in his wake. The Kobold Missionary also appears here and the guards do not consider him a threat, so he is almost more dangerous.
There are many benefits to adventuring in this area. The first, and I'm not sure many people know about this, is that there is a newbie area tucked away on the opposite side of the hill from the minotaur valley, carefully secluded in the back with its own merchants. I wandered through there a couple of times when I knew the servers were busy, and there was nobody hunting there. The belief that all gnomes should stay inside Ak'Anon may not be all true, with such prime, uncontested, hunting here. The other bonus to the zone is that there are many places for selling goods without actually having to go into a different zone to do so.
The other obvious benefit, which you'll find out after spending any time in other zones, is that the minotaurs have axes. The minotaur axes are, as far as I know, the second best non-magical 1H-Slashing weapon in the game, and a mainstay of every warrior on this island and the others. They have a Delay of 37 with a damage of 8. Prices for them skyrocket as you get further away, from about 4 platinum in Kelethin up to 10 or higher on the mainland or in Qeynos. Also, no warrior (especially rangers) can really call him or herself complete without one of these in hand. My ranger was handed one of these from some kind soul at 4th level, and he could take on gambles on his own until about 7th, when the axe was more appropriate.
In addition to the loot, there is a lot of experience to be gathered here. If I was 10th level, you can bet I'd have a buddy and we'd be hunting this zone from top to bottom. Due to the danger, I've never seen the minotaur valley overcrowded, and there were always so many monsters there that we were in danger of being attacked, not waiting for them to spawn.
Travelling To and From Steamfont Mountains
The only way into the zone lies through Lesser Faydark, which can be reached through Greater Faydark. From there its Butcherblock Mountains and the boat to the mainland. The path through Lesser Faydark isn't marked well, but by turning left approximately 45 degrees when stepping out of the zone from Greater Faydark, the zone edge to Steamfont is not very far away next to a small gnome outpost town.
Ak'Anon also has an entrance into the zone, where the gnomes enter the world. You can't miss it, as all the paths lead to it and there is a massive construction of furnaces and buildings outside to mark the entrance.
Nostalgia from 1999-2003 EQ Atlas Web Site