On the Trail: Third Gulch trail in Eagle | VailDaily.com

On the Trail: Third Gulch trail in Eagle

On the Trail, brought to you by The Steadman Clinic and the Steadman Philippon Research Institute, features a different Vail Valley trail twice per week.


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Suitable for: Hiking, biking, horseback riding

Difficulty: Beginner

Trailhead: Arroyo Drive in Eagle, parking available

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The town’s Third Gulch trail offers you a picturesque slice of the American West from the convenience of a paved trailhead.

The trail, with its gnarly, rutted-out doubletrack and lonesome-road atmosphere, may seem like a perfect cruise for a side-by-side ATV, but it has been designated hike, bike and horseback only, making it one of the most peaceful trails in the valley.

The trailhead is located on Arroyo Drive and offers plenty of parking and accessibility to other trails. Third Gulch is accessed from the south-most point of the parking area, and the trail heads almost straight south from there, like a clock’s minute hand set to :31.

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The doubletrack of Third Gulch will eventually connect with the Pipeline Trail and others for some more difficult and technical sections of singletrack. But as Third Gulch itself is often enjoyed as an out-and-back style trail, you may encounter bikers, hikers and horseback riders coming in the other direction. However the trail is one of the less frequently traveled of the many options in Eagle, which is one of the elements that makes Third Gulch that much of a nicer way to spend a sunny September afternoon.

The trail winds along a creek which provides ample vegetation, keeping you cool along the way. Wildflowers are abundant, cottonwood trees are plentiful and also abutting the trail along the second mile is a large oak shrub area, a rare tree to find in Eagle County, where squirrels enjoy acorns as nature intended.

The trail is located on Town of Eagle Open Space and closes from Dec. 15 to April 15 every year.

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