Vail Today: Walking Mountains offers tours right in its backyard (video) |

Vail Today: Walking Mountains offers tours right in its backyard (video)

Emily Brown, naturalist for Walking Mountains Science Center, leads an hour-long tour around the center's campus. Here, she explains to Vail Today's Tricia Swenson that red rose hips are sweeter this time of year.
Austin Day | Special to the Daily |

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

Walking Mountains offers a wide variety of activities 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 the center’s backyard.

Walking Mountains is nestled on five acres just north of the main Avon exit and it is adjacent to public lands. The center hosts free nature walks from 2 to 3 p.m. Monday through 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 from 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 its many hikes this winter. In addition to the nature walk in Avon, there are guided snowshoe tours daily from 2 to 3 p.m. at the top of Vail Mountain. It is free for those 10 and older, but a foot-passenger pass is required to get up to Eagle’s Nest.

After getting a taste of nature, delve in a bit further into the wild and take one of Walk Mountains’ guided backcountry snowshoe hikes, offered from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Thursdays through March 31.

For a schedule of all of the center’s programs, visit