As we swelter in the dog days of August, there’s no better time to get up, and beat the heat and hike in Vail.
Boasting the incredible Gore Range and jaw-dropping views in every direction, hitting the trails is a perfect way to get outside and be reminded of the beauty of our magnificent state.
Whether you stop at the top of Vail Pass or venture north to Piney Lake, you won’t be disappointed. Here are a few of the Usaj Realty top choices for hikes in the Vail Valley. There’s still plenty of time to experience them before Labor Day.
And remember, if you find them irresistible in the summer just imagine what they’ll be like in September when the leaves start turning!
This hike is one of those “rites of passage” if you live in Colorado. Whether you ski this trail in the winter or trek it in the summer, this idyllic adventure is an all-day affair that’s well worth the time and effort. This hike is close to 20 miles one way and you’ll need two cars to complete this task. The first step is dropping off a car in Red Cliff, a small town south of Vail. Once a vehicle is parked in Red Cliff, head back to the top of Vail Pass to start the journey. Beautiful views, epic wildflower and a scrumptious meal await you in Red Cliff at Mango’s Mountain Grill. If you can’t invest the time, approach the hike as an out-and-back. Park at the top of Vail Pass and hike as long as you want and then turn around. Either way, you’ll love the experience.
Located in East Vail, this out-and-back hike displays dramatic vistas of the Gore Range. Be prepared for a steep, difficult climb through glorious aspens and fir stands. There are many switchbacks to navigate, but the scenery that awaits you once you break out of the forest is spectacular. This 10-mile round-trip venture will take around 4 ½-5 hours to complete, which includes a well-deserved break at Deluge Lake. This trail typically doesn’t see as much traffic as some of the other hikes in the area so take advantage of fewer people and truly stunning views.
This is another challenging hike that rewards you at the end. This trail ends at treeline but many hikers choose to turn around and head back after viewing the 60-foot falls. If you head to the lake, it will be about a 5-hour round trip through magnificent aspen stands and pine trees. You’ll enter into the Eagles Nest Wilderness Area so make sure your dogs are leashed. Be prepared to see mountain goats, marmots, and other Colorado wildlife. And remember to bring some insect repellent. The mosquitos can get nasty! Finally, there is no parking at the Booth Creek trailhead. Take the free city of Vail shuttle bus that will take you right to the Booth Lake bus stop, which is only a quarter-mile from the trailhead.
This is the classic Vail Mountain hike. If you’re looking for a strenuous hike right in the middle of town, this is it. A longtime locals favorite, Berry Picker tests your resolve with heart-pumping vertical amidst glorious aspen trees and babbling streams. This is a little over 8 miles roundtrip (plan on a little over 4 hours total) but you can cheat and take Gondola One down (or up for that matter!). Each summer, there is the Berry Picker Trail Run that is limited to 500 participants. Starting elevation is 8,250 and the race ends at 10,410. The runners face grades of a whopping 14 percent.
Upper Piney River Falls/Piney Lake
This hike is located 30-45 minutes north of Vail but is well worth the extra time investment. This year, the road is in rough shape so plan accordingly and select your vehicle carefully. There are long stretches of potholes, rocks, and washboard surfaces.
Located in the heart of the Gore Range, Piney Lake has drop-dead gorgeous views, even without the hike. This is one of the most popular destinations for visitors in the summer and in addition to hiking opportunities, you’ll find the Piney River Ranch. Featuring on-site cabins and glamping tents as well as horseback riding, fishing, and canoeing, and stand-up paddleboarding, this is a truly special place.
The Upper Piney River Falls hike is a 6-mile round trip trek that begins at the ranch, and traverses through lovely aspens and conifers, and includes some demanding switchbacks. You’ll cross over creeks and scree fields before reaching the waterfall which cascades through enormous boulders.
After the hike, enjoy lunch or a snack at Our Lodge Restaurant & Bar, part of the Piney River Ranch. They offer wonderful BBQ and great drinks. Remember, they are closed on Tuesdays.
If you are interested in learning more about the Vail Valley and Eagle County real estate market, please contact Matt Wilson at 970-471-9959. Whether you are looking for your first home or want to explore buying a vacation home, Matt is ready to assist with all your real estate needs.