7 great hikes in and around the Vail Valley | VailDaily.com

7 great hikes in and around the Vail Valley

Kim Fuller
Vail Lifestyle Magazine
photo - vail hiking

Photos by Dominique Taylor

With miles and miles of trails to explore in the Colorado mountains, Vail Valley’s local hikes are some of the most beautiful and accessible in the state. From June through September, a range of options takes hikers through wildflower fields, under canopies of shimmering aspen tree leaves, and to the top of mountain peaks. We’ve put together a short list of trails to check out this summer.

Easy Vail Hike

Village Loop

Trailhead: Beaver Creek Village
Options starting at 1 mile

Start this trail from Beaver Creek Village and combine it with Buddy’s Way to make a loop, or more ambitious hikers can hit Aspen Glade, along with Cinch, Allie’s Way and the Overlook Trail to add more adventure. This hike provides a lot of options and potential bailout points. It can range from 1 to 6 miles, roundtrip.

photo - vail hikeModerate Vail Hikes

Overlook Trail

Trailhead: Base of Beaver Creek Mountain
3.5 miles (one way)


 • 0-2 hours: Water, some crackers and a couple granola bars.
• 2-4 hours: More water, some fruit, trail mix and chips or crackers.
•4-6 hours: Lots of water, with a full lunch that includes a sandwich, fruit, electrolyte drink and a salty snack.

Find this trail at the base of Beaver Creek near the Centennial Express Lift to hike your way into aspen and pine trees. The trail is a 2,000-foot uphill challenge with some switchbacks that help moderate some of the ascent. Toward the top, hikers are rewarded with views of the ski resort and peaks in the Sawatch Range. Once at Spruce Saddle Lodge, hikers can stop for a bite to eat or a drink. The hike back down is optional — you can save your knees and some time by jumping in a gondola car on the Centennial Express Chairlift (dog-friendly on the way down) for a free ride back to the village (weather permitting). Make sure the chairlift is open that day before counting on a ride down.

Piney River Falls
Trailhead: Lower Piney River Trailhead at Piney River Ranch
6 miles roundtrip

Head out of the valley for one of the most beautiful destinations in the state that can be accessed by a car (with high clearance). Drive up to Piney Lake, located 11 miles out of town from Red Sandstone Road, and park at the trailhead to start out on this 6-mile trip to the falls and back. The trail stays along Piney Lake, then heads into an open meadow and up into the forest. At every fork, stay right, and once you reach an overlook point looking back at the valley and the lake, you’re about 15 minutes from the falls.

Whitney Lake
Trailhead: South of Minturn, about 5 miles up Homestake Road #703
5 miles roundtrip

From the small parking area on the left across the road from the trailhead, the trail will take you almost 3 miles uphill, gaining nearly 2,000 feet in elevation. It winds up steeply through aspen and conifer groves, offering views of the Sawatch range. Cross Whitney Creek on four large rocks, and then onward for about three-quarters of a mile to the lake. Whitney peak rises up from the north lake shore to an elevation of 13,271 ft.

photo - hiking vail mountainChallenging Hikes in Vail

Eccles Pass and Red Buffalo
Pass Thru Hike

Trailhead: Meadow Creek Trail, Frisco,
to Gore Creek Trail, Vail
13.6 miles

Take in all the views and true Rocky Mountain terrain on this rewarding day hike (or you can make it an overnight). Leave a car at the start of the Gore Creek Trail in East Vail, then drive over Vail Pass to Frisco to begin at Meadow Creek (the hike is accessible in either direction). From Meadow Creek, the trail climbs through the forest and then opens up into alpine meadows before ascending up Eccles Pass (11,917’), then past two lakes and up Red Buffalo Pass (11,742’). From the top, the hike steadily descends toward the forest and valley toward East Vail. Four miles from the start of the Gore Creek Trail, hikers will pass a marked split to Gore Lake on the right. Continue past the fork to make your way to the car you had previously parked.

Nolan Lake
Trailhead: 10 miles south of Eagle, off of Brush Creek Road on the way to Yeoman Park Campground and just past the road
to Fulford
12 miles roundtrip

This hike is almost entirely uphill on the 6-mile trek in, but the reward of reaching this alpine lake is well worth the effort. Nolan Creek flows adjacent to the trail at various sections, some offering picturesque views of waterfalls. The route climbs 3,000 feet of elevation gain to reach this spot, which sits right at the base of the New York Range. This hike is also great for enjoying an abundance of mountain wildflowers.

Notch Mountain
Fall Creek Trailhead: South of Minturn and five miles up Tigiwon Road No. 707
9.5 miles round-trip

This 13,077-foot summit offers incredible views of Mount of the
Holy Cross and the surrounding wilderness. From the trailhead, hike 2.5 miles until a junction with the Notch Mountain Trail. Take the right fork and climb steadily past timberline to the Notch Mountain Shelter. Be sure you are confident in your route-finding skills here, and the area can be confusing to navigate. The Fall Creek route is rated class 2+ with an elevation gain of about 3,480 feet.

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