Vail Today: Walking Mountains offers tours right out of their backyard (video) | VailDaily.com

Vail Today: Walking Mountains offers tours right out of their backyard (video)

There we were, just a few hundred yards off of Interstate 70 and 100 feet from cars in the parking lot, but felt like we were miles away from it all. That's the beauty of Walking Mountains Science Center and their programs, it sure doesn't take you long to feel enveloped in nature.

Walking Mountains offers a wide variety of offerings for kids and adults throughout the year. During the wintertime you will find guided hikes to help you spot the flora and fauna still evident. The hike that is easiest to get to and the most affordable (because it's free!) is offered literally in their backyard.

Walking Mountains is nestled on five acres just north of the Avon exit and they are adjacent to public lands. They host free nature walks from 2-3 p.m. Monday-Saturday.

While on tour we learned about hibernators, migrators and resisters, identified sage and rose hips and even spotted a few deer high along the hillside. The naturalist stopped many times to give us a few tidbits and facts about ecology, animal adaptations and streamside communities.

The hike is short and gentle enough for all ages and abilities and is perfect if you are taking a day off of the slopes or if you don't ski or snowboard and just want to get outside.

Spike your curiosity by joining Walking Mountains for one of their many hikes this winter. In addition to the nature walk in Avon, there are guided snowshoe tours from 2-3 p.m. daily and evening tours from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday at the top of Vail Mountain. The tours are free for those 10 years and older but a foot-passenger pass is required to get up to Eagle's Nest before 3:30 p.m.

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After getting a taste of nature, delve a bit further into the wild and take one of their guided backcountry snowshoe hikes, offered Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for ages 14 and older. Visit http://www.walkingmountains.org for more info.