Hike two Vail gems in a week | VailDaily.com

Hike two Vail gems in a week

Susie Kincade
Vail, CO Colorado

Special to the Vail DailyWildflowers should be a highlight of Wednesday's Hidden Gems Spraddle Creek hike north of Vail

VAIL, Colorado –The Hidden Gems Wilderness Campaign is hosting two free, guided hikes this week in the Spraddle Creek area north of Vail, Colorado.

This area is the closest to Vail and would bring wilderness into the resort’s backyard, making it accessible and enjoyable to more people, while also protecting this scenic landscape from logging, mining and other activities that can scar the landscape.

On Wednesday, the Spraddle Creek hike will be hosted by the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens and led by the gardens’ director of horticulture, Nicola Ripley, who was recently elected president of the American Gardens Association, an honor usually reserved for directors of the nation’s largest gardens.

This easy hike meanders through meadows, aspen and fir forests, with frequent stops to look at wildflowers. Expect about four miles of hiking over about three hours, plus a lunch stop. The hike will begin at 9 a.m., leaving from the trailhead parking lot at the base of Spraddle Creek Road (north side of I-70 at the main Vail exit). Please register on line for this hike at http://www.whiteriverwild.org.

On Saturday, the Bald Mountain hike offers a bigger challenge in the same area. This hike is sponsored by Paragon Guides, which has led outdoor adventures in summer and winter for over 30 years.

Donny Shefchik, a veteran guide for Paragon, will lead this eight-mile, eight-hour hike. Because there is no trail for part of the way, this is a strenuous hike, gaining 3,736 vertical feet. It begins in aspen forests and moves into a mature lodgepole forest.

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As the route climbs beyond the Bald Mountain meadows, the forest becomes a mature spruce/fir mix. The steepest segment of the hike gains the summit ridge, going through a high alpine environment of grasses and alpine plants.

“Bald Mountain is a special place,” says Shefchik. “It is one of the few remaining quiet areas accessed right from Vail. I love sharing the joy and delight people find when they discover beautiful places like Bald Mountain.”

Register on-line to hike the Hidden Gems. Visit http://www.whiteriverwild.org and click on Hikes/Events and register for these two and other hikes in Eagle, Summit and Pitkin counties.

The Hidden Gems Wilderness Proposal is led by local citizens and outdoor enthusiasts in collaboration with Wilderness Workshop, Colorado Mountain Club, Colorado Environmental Coalition and The Wilderness Society. The goal is to protect the last best roadless places in and around the White River National Forest for future generations as well as for the value they provide to our air, water, wildlife, scenic landscape and economic base.

As the campaign gains momentum this summer, Eagle County campaign coordinator Susie Kincade is reaching out to all stakeholders with informational presentations. If you have questions or would like her to address your community, please contact her at 970-328-5472, or susiek@whiteriverwild.org.