EAGLE COUNTY - The Teva Mountain Games kick off summer in Vail, but warm, sunny May weather made it feel like summer weeks ago.
What it means is that summer activities are in full swing very early on - the snow is long gone and everything is open from golf courses to bike trails to summer recreation businesses.
For those who want a break from the action in Vail this weekend, here's a snapshot of what you can do.
Mountain biking and hiking
Vail Mountain's gondola doesn't open for weekend service until June 8, with daily service beginning June 15, but there are mountain-bike trails all over the valley for all levels.
Bike rentals are available throughout Vail and the valley offering bikes suitable for everything from singletrack downhills to a leisurely cruise down the Gore Valley Trail bike path.
Easy trails near Vail include Shrine Pass, which goes from the top of Vail Pass to the town of Red Cliff, and Tigiwon, a 16-mile roundtrip ride that takes riders to the edge of the Holy Cross Wilderness, with views of one of Colorado's most famous 14,000-foot mountains, Mount of the Holy Cross.
For a list of trails for all ability levels from Vail to Eagle, visit www.eaglecounty.us/
Trails currently under wildlife closures include the North Trail and Son of Middle Creek, both in Vail, closed until June 15; Paulie's Plunge and Paulie's Sister, between Eagle-Vail and Beaver Creek, closed until June 30; and Whiskey Creek, Eastern Hillside and the Back Bowls (including a large portion of Two Elk Trail), all closed until July 1.
Hiking trails include many of the above mentioned trails, as well as hiking-only trails throughout the valley. Vail Mountain is still a great hiking option, but hikers will have to hike up and down because gondola service hasn't yet begun.
The Vail Nature Center in Vail, at Ford Park, offers adult backcountry hikes beginning in mid-June, including wildflower walks, kids' nature hikes, photography workshops, beaver pond tours, stargazing and other activities.
The Betty Ford Alpine Gardens is a nice option for a stroll through some beautiful alpine trees and plants - a mellow option for people of all physical abilities.
If bumpy mountain bike trails aren't your thing, try out some of the county's more mellow bike trails that are great for families. One of the most popular rides is the Vail Pass to Edwards regional trail, on which riders can ride as little or as much of as desired. Several bike rental shops in Vail offer rides up to the top of Vail Pass so riders can enjoy the fun part down Vail Pass without all the huffing and puffing to get to the top.
For those not looking to go that fast, the Gore Valley Trail offers 15 miles of scenic and mostly flat riding through Vail, hugging Gore Creek for most of the way.
For mountain and canyon views from up high, try a zip-lining tour out of 4 Eagle Ranch. There are currently four tours per day, at 9 a.m., 10 a.m., noon and 1 p.m. This activity is a heart-pumping thrill ride good for the whole family. Visit
www.zipadventures.com for details and reservations.
For a bird's-eye view of the Vail Valley, try a paragliding tandem ride near Wolcott. Vail Valley Paragliding offers rides out of Bellyache Ridge in the mornings. Visit www.vailvalleyparagliding.com for details and appointments.
Fishing in Eagle County is a sport that some say will get you hooked for a lifetime. There's a serenity that comes with standing in the river, hunting for fish and trying to find just the right technique and flies to catch them. Fishing along the Eagle River and Gore Creek is popular this time of year. Call Gore Creek Flyfishermen, Minturn Anglers, Flyfishing Outfitters, Nova Guides or Colorado River Outfitters for guide services and reservations.
The valley is full of river rafting companies eager to take guests for thrilling rides along the Eagle, Colorado and Arkansas rivers. Because of low Eagle River flows, most companies are busing guests to the nearby Colorado and Arkansas, with daily tours for all ability levels.
Call Nova Guides, Timberline Tours, Lakota Guides, Sage Outdoor Adventures or Colorado River Runs for booking and information on local river rafting trips.
Assistant Managing Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or firstname.lastname@example.org.