Vail Nature Center expands hiking schedule | VailDaily.com

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Vail Nature Center expands hiking schedule

If you go …

What: Guided hikes with the Vail Nature Center.

When: June through October.

Where: The Vail Nature Center is located on Vail Valley Drive near the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens.

Cost: Family hikes cost $30 per person ($25 for Vail Rec District members); full-day hikes cost $80 ($75 for VRD members). the Backcountry Hiking membership costs $500 and provides unlimited access to all hikes and other benefits.

More information: Visit http://www.walkingmountains.org/hike.

Walking Mountains Science Center and the Vail Recreation District's hiking schedule kicks off in June with added trails, more peaks and learning on public lands.

The Backcountry Hiking program, centered out of the Vail Nature Center, runs from the beginning of June through the end of October, catching the summer wildflower blooms along with peak fall color season. To view the full schedule and register, visit http://www.walkingmountains.org/hike.

Hikes are guided by certified interpretive guides, wilderness first responders and outdoor enthusiasts that have been experiencing the valley underfoot for years.

Back again this summer are the popular family hikes every Thursday through the fall. Individuals or families with children ages 8 and older are invited to join a naturalist on these shorter, yet equally beautiful and impressive treks on local trails. Family hikes return to the Vail area by early afternoon.

Going bigger

New to the already extensive portfolio of trails this year are hikes in the San Isabel National Forest. Hikers will have the opportunity to summit the highest peak in Colorado, Mt. Elbert, or spend a few days on the world famous Colorado Trail. Another new trail in the San Isabel National Forest will bring hikers to the turn of the century resort town of Interlaken, on the shores of Twin Lakes. This luxurious ghost town is an impressive reminder of the wealth that was found in the mountainsides surrounding Leadville.

Local Hot Spots

Hikers will also be taken to some of the local hotspots in the Eagle Valley, including the Missouri Lakes and Fancy Pass Loop or the infamous Machine Gun Ridge in Camp Hale where 10th Mt. Division soldiers once tested ordinance. They'll be taken back to Mystic Island Lake or to the summit of New York Mountain or Red and White Mountain.

Get Your Pass

Backcountry Hiking members receive unlimited access to all hikes, all summer long, and extra benefits like Colorado Search and Rescue Membership cards and discounted access to other Walking Mountains' programs. More information on club membership is available online by visiting http://www.walkingmountains.org/hike.

Family hikes cost $30 per person or $25 for Vail Rec District homeowners. Full-day hikes (6 or more hours, 10 or more miles) take place on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays and are $80 per person or $75 for Vail Rec District homeowners.

The hiking center offers a chance to meet new friends, get off the beaten path or learn from the local ecology and gorgeous natural environment.

As famous outdoorsman Edward Abbey once said, "May your trails be crooked, winding, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view."