VAIL, Colorado - The Hidden Gems Wilderness Campaign is leading a hike up Piney Ridge Saturday as a part of a series of free hikes into proposed wilderness areas in Eagle, Summit and Pitkin counties.
Piney Ridge is a long arm of the of the Gore Range running west above the roadless and extensive lower Piney River Valley. The hike approaches the ridge through lush aspen forests and expansive high altitude parks. The route then climbs onto the ridge at the summit of Piney Peak at 11,600 feet, continues along the crest, and loops back beside Walter Lake. The route is eight miles and includes 2,400 feet of elevation gain.
From the top of Piney Peak, hikers will see Eagle's Nest and Mt. Powell jutting to the west, and the peaks of the Holy Cross Wilderness towering to the south just beyond the game-rich Piney Valley.
"The hikes are a great way to get out into less explored areas of Eagle County and see first-hand many of the areas in the Hidden Gems Wilderness Proposal," said Susie Kincade, Hidden Gems organizer for Eagle County. "With so much public discussion about the Hidden Gems, this is an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of where the wilderness proposal areas are and what they look like on the ground."
Other upcoming hikes in the Eagle and Summit County areas include a trek to the Mohawk Lakes near Breckenridge on July 18, a wildflower hike up Spraddle Creek on July 21, a traverse of three high peaks in the Tenmile Range on July 31, and an ascent of Castle Peak on Aug. 1.
The hikes in this year's series tend to fall into two categories: challenging hikes designed to take even long-time local hikers to new places, and short, accessible hikes allowing hikers of all levels to experience the proposed wilderness areas.
The Hidden Gems Wilderness Campaign is seeking designation of major new wilderness additions on the White River and Gunnison National Forests and nearby Bureau of Land Management lands. The proposal would create several brand-new, standalone wilderness areas, while significantly enlarging existing wildernesses.
To view the hikes schedule and sign up contact Collin Stewart at 970-963-3799 or visit www.whiteriverwild.org/p-Hikes-74.html.