hikes in Vail
Hiking in Vail is not as well known as skiing. This is a shame, as this mountain-lover’s paradise makes a great hiking base. Some of the best hikes near Vail can be found in the nearby White River National Forest. While Vail is great for skiing, it also happens to be a perfect place to hike. Come to Vail in mid-June or early August to see the meadows of wildflowers bloom.
The best hikes around Vail range from easy to advanced, and take you on trails with wonderful views of the surrounding mountains. You can take a stroll along the tranquil Gore Creek, or you can do a strenuous 9.9mi, alpine adventure to Pitkin Lake. The region has a number of near-perfect hikes for anyone looking to spend time outdoors. The hikes feature groves of aspen trees, stands of subalpine firs, Engelmann Spruces, and various pines. There are meadows of wildflowers, wildlife viewings (mountain goats, moose, and marmots), and breath-taking views of the Gore Mountain Range, so what are you waiting for? Check out our favorite hikes near Vail, Colorado.
THE TOP 10 HIKES NEAR VAIL, COLORADO
- Upper Piney River Falls Trail (5.8mi, 699ft, 2.5-3.5h): Upper Piney River Falls Trail is one of the most popular hikes near Vail. The trail, which rewards hikers with stunning views of the Gore Range, slowly climbs up 699ft, spread over 2.9mi, to a cascading waterfall. This trail is commonly used as the approach to Mt. Powell – the highest summit in the Gore Range at 13586ft.
- Booth Falls Trail (3.9mi, 1230ft, 2-3h): The Booth Creek Trail, that leads to Booth Falls, hikes through the Booth Creek drainage. It is lined with spectacular sandstone rock formations. You’ll hike past aspen groves and beautiful meadows to an 59ft waterfall.
- Pitkin Lake Trail (9.7mi, 2746ft, 5.5-7h): Pitkin Lake Trail makes for an adventure-filled day hike near Vail. The gorgeous trail starts off steep, but it quickly (after roughly 1.0mi) levels out. Gradually, the trail ascends the valley, past two waterfalls, to the stunning lake that sits below East and West Partner (two 12992ft peaks).
- Shrine Ridge Trail (3.4mi, 676ft, 1.5-2h): Shrine Ridge Trail gradually hikes through lush pine meadows, passing two small ponds, to Shrine Ridge. The Shrine Ridge leads to the top of Shrine Mountain (elevation 11745ft). You’ll get incredible views, considering it’s such a short hike.
- Gore Lake Trail (12.7mi, 2700ft, 6-8h): Gore Lake Trail is a full-day hike to the beautiful, alpine lake. The trail winds through aspen groves, meadows, and pine stands in the beautiful Gore Creek drainage. There are some steep sections, but it’s all worth it. Things level out when you get to the lake where you may be greeted by mountain goats.
- Ridge Route (2.4mi, 558ft, 1-1.5h): Ridge Route is a hike located on Vail Mountain, connecting Eagle’s Nest to Wildwood. The trail offers breath-taking views of the Holy Cross Wilderness south of Vail. The highest point in the northern Sawatch Range, at an elevation of 14009ft, is Mount of the Holy Cross, and it is visible from Ridge Route.
- Bighorn Creek Trail (7.5mi, 2133ft, 4-5.5h): Bighorn Creek Trail is a diverse hike that takes you through aspen, Engelmann Spruce, subalpine fir, pine stands, fern groves, and meadows of wildflowers. There is even an old cabin located a mile past Bighorn Creek Falls. The trail offers outstanding views of Vail Mountain and city, as well as the Gore Range.
- Gore Valley Trail – East Vail (3.7mi, 79ft, 1-2h): The East Vail portion of the Gore Valley Trail takes a shared hike and bike path. You’ll pass below a vibrant red sandstone cliff band while following Gore Creek. The easy walk leads to the meadows and aspen groves on the east end of the golf course. Pack a picnic for this one!
- Berrypicker Trail (5.9mi, 2041ft, 2.5-3.5h): Berrypicker Trail hikes up Vail Mountain to Eagle’s Nest from Lionshead Village. The trail steeply winds through meadows of wildflowers (which are the ski runs during winter), aspen groves, and pine stands. The hike is often done as a one-way with help from the Lionshead Gondola.
- Davos Trail (5.7mi, 673ft, 2-3h): The Davos Trail follows a dirt service road. It hikes through aspen groves and meadows of wildflowers. Looking across the I-70, hikers are greeted by the peaks of the Holy Cross Wilderness.
The best hikes in Vail
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