Hike of the Week: West Grouse Creek Loop is one of the best moderate, half-day snowshoe hikes in the valley
Walking Mountains Science Center
While many favorite summer trails travel underneath large avalanche paths, or are inaccessible during the winter time — the Eagle Valley’s lower elevation trails offer safe and accessible access for wintertime backcountry exploration. One of the best moderate half-day snowshoe hikes in the valley is the West Grouse Creek Loop. This loop hike features a sampling of all the snowshoeing in Colorado has to offer: mountain views, quiet snow-covered evergreen forests, elegant aspen groves and the opportunity to see a variety of wildlife tracks along the way.
- Length: 3.5 miles
- Difficulty: Moderate
To hike this loop, start at the Grouse Creek Trailhead just north of Minturn. From Interstate 70, take exit 171 and head south on U.S. Highway 24 toward Minturn. Drive about a mile on Highway 24 and look for a small parking area and trailhead on your right, just before entering the town of Minturn.
What to expect
The best way to hike this loop is in the clockwise direction. Head left out of the trailhead and up the West Grouse Creek Trail, continue past the firsts signed junction and stay in the valley bottom. As soon as the trail enters a dense evergreen forest there will be another trail junction, this time with the Grouse Lake Trail. Bear right keeping on the West Grouse Creek Trail. Follow this trail about 1.5 miles from the trailhead to an unsigned intersection with an old logging road. Take a right on this old road and follow it as it contours across the hillside to the open slopes of Meadow Mountain. At the high point of the loop you will be met with a stunning view of the Gore Range. From here you can turn left and continue up the Meadow Mountain Trail for a longer day, or complete the loop by simply head down the ridge, keeping the valley you just climbed up on your right. Follow this open ridge down, often hiking in snowmobile tracks. When you reach the bottom where the gradient begins to flatten, bear right and cross Grouse Creek on the wooden foot bridge, and follow the trail back. Alternatively, from the high point and Gore Range view, you can head back the way you came following the West Grouse Creek Trail.
This beautiful loop hike features old spruce and fir forests, open aspen glades, and the panoramic views on Meadow Mountain. This trail travels through so much diverse habitat and follows West Grouse Creek for much of the way, making this hike one of the best places to search for wildlife tracks. Moose are often seen on the shrubby hillsides adjacent the West Grouse Creek Trail, and fox, coyote and snowshoe hare tracks commonly cross the trail as it climbs through the forest.
Hike with Walking Mountains
Walking Mountains Science Center guides this hike, and more, twice a week through March. Join us on Tuesdays and Thursdays for our Tracks, Signs & Snowshoes, Snow Science Snapshots, Camp Hale History, and Backcountry Adventure Snowshoe Tours. Book your snowshoe hike today at http://www.walkingmountains.org/snowshoe.
Nathan Boyer-Rechlin is the community outreach coordinator and hiking guide at Walking Mountains Science Center.