By Kim Fuller Published in the Vail Daily
Easy Vail HikeVillage Loop Trailhead: Beaver Creek Village Options starting at 1 mile Start this trail from Beaver Creek Village and combine it with Buddy’s Way to make a loop, or more ambitious hikers can hit Aspen Glade, along with Cinch, Allie’s Way and the Overlook Trail to add more adventure. This hike provides a lot of options and potential bailout points. It can range from 1 to 6 miles, roundtrip.
Moderate Vail HikesOverlook Trail Trailhead: Base of Beaver Creek Mountain 3.5 miles (one way)
FUEL TO PACK ON YOUR HIKE
• 0-2 hours: Water, some crackers and a couple granola bars. • 2-4 hours: More water, some fruit, trail mix and chips or crackers. •4-6 hours: Lots of water, with a full lunch that includes a sandwich, fruit, electrolyte drink and a salty snack.
Piney River Falls Trailhead: Lower Piney River Trailhead at Piney River Ranch 6 miles roundtrip Head out of the valley for one of the most beautiful destinations in the state that can be accessed by a car (with high clearance). Drive up to Piney Lake, located 11 miles out of town from Red Sandstone Road, and park at the trailhead to start out on this 6-mile trip to the falls and back. The trail stays along Piney Lake, then heads into an open meadow and up into the forest. At every fork, stay right, and once you reach an overlook point looking back at the valley and the lake, you’re about 15 minutes from the falls.
Whitney Lake Trailhead: South of Minturn, about 5 miles up Homestake Road #703 5 miles roundtrip From the small parking area on the left across the road from the trailhead, the trail will take you almost 3 miles uphill, gaining nearly 2,000 feet in elevation. It winds up steeply through aspen and conifer groves, offering views of the Sawatch range. Cross Whitney Creek on four large rocks, and then onward for about three-quarters of a mile to the lake. Whitney peak rises up from the north lake shore to an elevation of 13,271 ft.
Challenging Hikes in VailEccles Pass and Red Buffalo Pass Thru Hike Trailhead: Meadow Creek Trail, Frisco, to Gore Creek Trail, Vail 13.6 miles Take in all the views and true Rocky Mountain terrain on this rewarding day hike (or you can make it an overnight). Leave a car at the start of the Gore Creek Trail in East Vail, then drive over Vail Pass to Frisco to begin at Meadow Creek (the hike is accessible in either direction). From Meadow Creek, the trail climbs through the forest and then opens up into alpine meadows before ascending up Eccles Pass (11,917′), then past two lakes and up Red Buffalo Pass (11,742′). From the top, the hike steadily descends toward the forest and valley toward East Vail. Four miles from the start of the Gore Creek Trail, hikers will pass a marked split to Gore Lake on the right. Continue past the fork to make your way to the car you had previously parked.
Nolan Lake Trailhead: 10 miles south of Eagle, off of Brush Creek Road on the way to Yeoman Park Campground and just past the road to Fulford 12 miles roundtrip This hike is almost entirely uphill on the 6-mile trek in, but the reward of reaching this alpine lake is well worth the effort. Nolan Creek flows adjacent to the trail at various sections, some offering picturesque views of waterfalls. The route climbs 3,000 feet of elevation gain to reach this spot, which sits right at the base of the New York Range. This hike is also great for enjoying an abundance of mountain wildflowers.
Notch Mountain Fall Creek Trailhead: South of Minturn and five miles up Tigiwon Road No. 707 9.5 miles round-trip This 13,077-foot summit offers incredible views of Mount of the Holy Cross and the surrounding wilderness. From the trailhead, hike 2.5 miles until a junction with the Notch Mountain Trail. Take the right fork and climb steadily past timberline to the Notch Mountain Shelter. Be sure you are confident in your route-finding skills here, and the area can be confusing to navigate. The Fall Creek route is rated class 2+ with an elevation gain of about 3,480 feet.