Vail Hikes

Hiking in Vail is not as well known as skiing. This is a shame, as this mountain-lover’s paradise makes a great hiking base. Vail offers wonderful hiking, mountain biking, golfing, and fishing during the off-season. The town is surrounded by the White River National Forest. If you visit you’ll be offered great access to the Gore Mountain Range. A lot of people think it’s a perfect place to ski, and they’d be right; however, it also happens to be a perfect place to hike. Come in mid-June or early August to see the meadows of wildflowers bloom.

Click ‘+MORE INFO’ below for a list of the 10 Best Hiking Trails in Vail.

THE TOP 10 HIKING TRAILS NEAR VAIL

The Vail Region offers hikes ranging in difficulty. You can take a stroll along the tranquil Gore Creek, or you can do a strenuous 16km, alpine adventure to Pitkin Lake. The region has a number of near-perfect hikes for anyone looking to spend time outdoors. The hikes feature groves of aspen trees, stands of subalpine firs, Engelmann Spruces, and various pines. There are meadows of wildflowers, wildlife viewings (mountain goats, moose, and marmots), and breath-taking views of the Gore Mountain Range, so what are you waiting for?

#1. Upper Piney River Falls Trail (9.3km, 213m, 2.5-3.5h): Upper Piney River Falls Trail is one of the most popular hikes in the Vail Region. The trail, which rewards hikers with stunning views of the Gore Range, slowly climbs up 213m, spread over 4.6km, to a cascading waterfall. This trail is commonly used as the approach to Mt. Powell – the highest summit in the Gore Range at 4,141m.

#2. Booth Falls Trail (6.3km, 375m, 2-3h): The Booth Creek Trail, that leads to Booth Falls, hikes through the Booth Creek drainage. It is lined with spectacular sandstone rock formations. You’ll hike past aspen groves and beautiful meadows to an 18m waterfall.

#3. Pitkin Lake Trail (15.6km, 837m, 5.5-7h): Pitkin Lake Trail makes for an adventure-filled day hike. The gorgeous trail starts off steep, but it quickly (after roughly 1.6 km) levels out. Gradually, the trail ascends the valley, past two waterfalls, to the stunning lake that sits below East and West Partner (two 3,960m peaks).

#4. Shrine Ridge Trail (5.5km, 206m, 1.5-2h): Shrine Ridge Trail gradually hikes through lush pine meadows, passing two small ponds, to Shrine Ridge. The Shrine Ridge leads to the top of Shrine Mountain (elevation 3,580m). You’ll get incredible views, considering it’s such a short hike.

#5. Gore Lake Trail (20km, 823m, 6-8h): Gore Lake Trail is a full-day hike to the beautiful, alpine lake. The trail winds through aspen groves, meadows, and pine stands in the beautiful Gore Creek drainage. There are some steep sections, but it’s all worth it. Things level out when you get to the lake where you may be greeted by mountain goats.

#6. Ridge Route (3.9km, 170m, 1-1.5h): Ridge Route is a hike located on Vail Mountain, connecting Eagle’s Nest to Wildwood. The trail offers breath-taking views of the Holy Cross Wilderness south of Vail. The highest point in the northern Sawatch Range, at an elevation of 4,270m, is Mount of the Holy Cross, and it is visible from Ridge Route.

#7. Bighorn Creek Trail (12.1km, 650m, 4-5.5h): Bighorn Creek Trail is a diverse hike that takes you through aspen, Engelmann Spruce, subalpine fir, pine stands, fern groves, and meadows of wildflowers. There is even an old cabin located a mile past Bighorn Creek Falls. The trail offers outstanding views of Vail Mountain and city, as well as the Gore Range.

#8. Gore Valley Trail – East Vail (6km, 24m, 1-2h): The East Vail portion of the Gore Valley Trail takes a shared hike and bike path. You’ll pass below a vibrant red sandstone cliff band while following Gore Creek. The easy walk leads to the meadows and aspen groves on the east end of the golf course. Pack a picnic for this one!

#9. Berrypicker Trail (9.5km, 622m, 2.5-3.5h): Berrypicker Trail hikes up Vail Mountain to Eagle’s Nest from Lionshead Village. The trail steeply winds through meadows of wildflowers (which are the ski runs during winter), aspen groves, and pine stands. The hike is often done as a one-way with help from the Lionshead Gondola.

#10. Davos Trail (9.2km, 205m, 2-3h): The Davos Trail follows a dirt service road. It hikes through aspen groves and meadows of wildflowers. Looking across the I-70, hikers are greeted by the peaks of the Holy Cross Wilderness.

01. UPPER PINEY RIVER FALLS TRAIL

01. UPPER PINEY RIVER FALLS TRAIL

  • Difficulty
  • 9.3km
  • 213m
  • 2.5-3.5h

02. BOOTH FALLS TRAIL

02. BOOTH FALLS TRAIL

  • Difficulty
  • 6.3km
  • 375m
  • 2-3h

03. PITKIN LAKE TRAIL

03. PITKIN LAKE TRAIL

  • Difficulty
  • 15.6km
  • 837m
  • 5.5-7h

04. SHRINE RIDGE TRAIL

04. SHRINE RIDGE TRAIL

  • Difficulty
  • 5.5km
  • 206m
  • 1.5-2h

05. GORE LAKE TRAIL

05. GORE LAKE TRAIL

  • Difficulty
  • 20km
  • 823m
  • 6-8h

06. RIDGE ROUTE

06. RIDGE ROUTE

  • Difficulty
  • 3.9km
  • 170m
  • 1-1.5h

07. BIGHORN CREEK TRAIL

07. BIGHORN CREEK TRAIL

  • Difficulty
  • 12.1km
  • 650m
  • 4-5.5h

08. GORE VALLEY TRAIL (EAST VAIL)

08. GORE VALLEY TRAIL (EAST VAIL)

  • Difficulty
  • 6km
  • 24m
  • 1-2h

09. BERRYPICKER TRAIL

09. BERRYPICKER TRAIL

  • Difficulty
  • 9.5km
  • 622m
  • 2.5-3.5h

10. DAVOS TRAIL

10. DAVOS TRAIL

  • Difficulty
  • 9.2km
  • 205m
  • 2-3h

“I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than the trees

– Henry David Thoreau