Summer hits the trails |

Summer hits the trails

Kristin Anderson/Vail DailyU.S. Forest Service trail crew member Kassie Skipper, right, cuts down an aspen tree. She and co-worker Joel Schwab, left, were working on the Gore Creek Trail near East Vail that until recently was blocked by snow.

VAIL, Colorado ” Greg Miller was shocked to see Booth Lake still partly frozen during a hike up Booth Falls Trail.

Snow ringing its banks, the lake had some patches of ice on it last Wednesday, unlike during the same time in past, drier years.

“It was a different world at 12,000 feet all the sudden,” Miller said.

As all trails have opened this month after some were closed during the offseason to let elk bear their young in peace, snow has mostly melted, hikers and forest service officials say.

Participate in The Longevity Project

The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.

Still, prepare to hike through some mud, water and some snow in some places if you’re going on a long, uphill hike in Eagle County, said Sam Massman, wilderness manager for the U.S. Forest Service.

Until recently, many hiking trails were covered with snow in the valley, forcing trail maintenance crews to shift their attention to clearing fallen trees on trails at lower elevations with less snow. Heavy runoff in streams even damaged bridges at Cross Creek and Two Elk.

Now hikers must wade through Two Elk Creek to cross, said Dawes Wilson, a volunteer for the Forest Service who has maintained trails with the Trail Action Group for 10 years.

“There’s still a few issues with the huge snow year and the cold spring, but by mid-July now it’s pretty minor,” Wilson said.

There’s still some snow on trails around treeline on north facing slopes, Massman said. To avoid “post-holing” in soft afternoon snowdrifts, hiking should be done early in the morning, he said.

“I wouldn’t say that’s that far out of line for this time of year,” he said. “But there’s just a little more of it this year.”

Hikers may find snow on portions of East Lake Creek and Half Moon trails and around Missouri Lakes in the Holy Cross Wilderness, he said.

“I don’t know if this is the kind of thing that would stop you from where you are going, but it would make it a lot more of a pain,” said Massman, stopping short of recommending snow shoes.

“You’d be taking them on and off all the time,” he said.

Trails that face south, such as Whitney Lake in Homestake, and ones at lower elevations, such as Game Creek and Two Elk trails around Minturn, are a good bet for less snow, Massman said.

Miller has enjoyed hiking around Vail and Eagle, where the snow is has mostly melted. Hikes at higher elevations in the Gore Range would require some planning to get around some snow, he said.

Many of the state’s 50-plus 14-thousand-foot peaks should ready to go, as well, he said.

“Now is a perfect time to go to a lot of these places because (the snow is) finally subsiding,” Miller said.

Staff Writer Steve Lynn can be reached at 970-748-2931 or

Support Local Journalism