Frolic through fall foliage |

Frolic through fall foliage

Theo Stroomer/Vail DailySurrounded by fall foliage, Gavin Selway, left, and Zane Stutts, both of Bearcat Stables in Edwards, travel down the Grouse Creek trail with their horses on Wednesday.

Golden leaves are starting to light up the aspens on Beaver Creek and a stubble of fall foliage has developed on Wolcott’s foothills.

With the Vail Valley decked out in autumn colors, many people find it hard to resist cozying up to the autumn landscape.

“You just want to be out there looking at it,” Gypsum resident Ruth Moran said. “And of course, the temperature is so perfect outside right now. It’s the perfect time to get out and into the mountains.”

That depends on whom you ask, and how you like to commune with nature.

While some locals hike through the flaming red scrub oaks near Glenwood Canyon, others prefer to ride motorcycles under canopies of golden aspens on the outskirts of Crested Butte.

Eagle-Vail resident Paul Gorbold, 29, gravitates to biking trails. His fall favorite is Village to Village, a roughly four-mile trail that starts at the top of Arrowhead and ends at Red Tail Camp in Beaver Creek.

“It ends up high and you can see everything,” Gorbold said. “There’s a couple of sections where it goes through aspen glades. Everything turns yellow.”

For alpine views on Vail Mountain, Gorbold heads to the Grand Traverse trail. He picks it up at the top of chair 4, wraps through the back bowls, and ends at Eagle’s Nest. That route offers panoramic views of the Sun Up and Sun Down bowls.

“All the fire weeds are starting to become really red against the orangey background,” Gorbold said.

Heading west into Minturn, Gorbold finds colorful terrain in the Meadow Mountain area. He starts at the Holy Cross Ranger Station, pedals up to the shepherd’s hut, cruises down Whiskey Creek Trail and ends near Battle Mountain High School in Eagle-Vail.

“It’s one of those trails that tops out really high,” he said. “You get a good view of the valley.”

While cruising through the valley on a bicycle appeals to some, Moran likes to tour fall foliage on foot. She recently hoofed it through the Hardscrabble Mountain area near Eagle, where the scrub oak was starting to turn festive colors.

Along with inspiring local excursions, fall foliage offers an excuse to get out of town. Tom Roach, a part-time Cordillera resident who owns two Harley Davidson dealerships in Palm Springs, Calif., shared his favorite autumn motorcycle rides.

He likes to cruise up Crested Butte, then motor along Kebler or Ohio passes. “There are some nice ranches along the way and beautiful mountains, especially over Kebler pass,” Roach said. “In spots they remind me of the Dolomites in Italy.”

At the Lazy J Ranch in Wolcott, September is often the busiest month for horseback riding, ranch hand Emma Brown said.

On Wednesday, Brown rode a chestnut quarter horse along a trail that wound through forests and mountains that were lit up with gold, crimson and orange foliage.

“It’s not too hot but it’s not too cold, so it’s comfortable,” she said. “It’s just really pretty and the sun is shining and you can see all the leaves on the trees.”

High Life Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2938 or

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