The Vail area of the Colorado Rockies during the summer months offer some of the most outstanding hiking anywhere in the world. A walk to a secluded mountain lake or waterfall can be a vacation hightlight. Try some of our featured trails this summer or check with the concierge for more hiking ideas. It is also possible to enjoy guided hikes around Vail: https://www.walkingmountains.org/things-to-do/vail-guided-backcountry-hikes/. Out of the back door of the Willows and Riva Ridge, Vail mountain has some outstanding trail from the base or accessed via the Gondola: https://www.vail.com/explore-the-resort/activities-and-events/summer-activities/hiking-and-backpacking.aspx.
Booth Creek Trail
Length: 4.1 miles (one way) Trail Use: High
Difficulty: Moderate to more difficult Open To: Hiking
Beginning Elevation: 8,400 ft. Ending Elevation: 11,480 ft.
Elevation Gain: +3036 ft.-0 ft. = +3036 ft. USGS Map(s): East Vail
Trail Highlights: The trail climbs steeply from the trailhead through aspen groves for the first mile. Then, the trail climbs more gradually following along Booth Creek. At mile 2, the trail passes 60 foot Booth Creek Falls. Beyond the falls, early season hikers may encounter snow patches as the trail winds through conifer forests and meadows filled with wildflowers. Above 10,000 feet the trees thin and the terrain changes offering views of the Gore Range. The last 1/4 mile to Booth Lake is steep and rocky. Printable Sheet.
Pitkin Creek Trail
Length: 4.5 miles (one way) Trail Use: Moderate
Difficulty: Moderate to More difficult Open To: Hiking
Beginning Elevation: 8500 ft. Ending Elevation: 11,400 ft.
Elevation Gain: +2900 ft.– 0 ft. = +2900 ft. USGS Map(s): East Vail
Trail Highlights: The first mile of the trail is strenuous as it climbs steeply out of the Vail Valley. Fallen trees along the trail are evidence of past avalanches. The grade levels out somewhat as the trail passes through mature aspen groves and spruce-fir forests and a series of moraines from an ancient glacial retreat. After about 2.5 miles, steep switchbacks reveal the first of two waterfalls on Pitkin Creek about 200 yards to the east.After a number of false summits, the trail reaches Pitkin Lake. Printable Sheet.
Bighorn Creek Trail
Length: 3.25 miles (one way) Trail Use: High
Difficulty: More Difficult Open To: Hiking
Beginning Elevation: 8,608 ft. Ending Elevation: 10,788 ft.
Elevation Gain: +2,180 ft.-0 ft. = +2,180 ft. USGS Map(s): Vail East
Trail Highlights: The first 1/2 mile of the trail climbs steeply out of the Vail Valley, then more gradually climbs up through stands of aspen and pine. The trail passes beaver ponds and the remains of old mining camps as well as Bighorn Falls. Near mile 2, the views of Vail and Bighorn drainage are exceptional. Around mile 3, the trail passes through open meadows and stands of subalpine fir and Englemann spruce, offering a chance to see the Grand Traverse, a continuous 12,000 foot ridge connecting all the peaks and high drainages of the Gore Range. The trail ends at an old homestead cabin located on private property. Printable Sheet.
Gore Creek Trail
Length: 5.48 miles to Gore Lake (one way) Elevation Gain: +2,755 ft.-76 ft. = +2,679 ft.
6.8 miles to Red Buffalo Pass (one way) +3,107 ft.-71 ft. = +3,036 ft.
Difficulty: Moderate to More Difficult Trail Use: High
Beginning Elevation: 8,711 ft. Open To: Hiking, Horseback
Ending Elevation: 11,390 ft. USGS Map(s): Vail East
Trail Highlights: The first 4 miles of the trail climbs alongside Gore Creek. There are some short steep sections along the way. The trail winds through meadows and aspen groves which change to conifer stands as the elevation increases. At mile 4, the trail forks; straight ahead goes over Red Buffalo Pass to Summit County, the left fork goes to Gore Lake. From the fork, the trail climbs though spruce and fir forest into the alpine tundra to Gore Lake. The trail is steeper in this section. Printable Sheet.
Half Moon Pass Trail
Length: 5.4 miles (one way) Trail Use: Very High
Difficulty: Most Difficult Open To: Hiking, Horseback
Beginning Elevation: 10,320 ft. Ending Elevation: 14,005 ft.
Elevation Gain: +4,659 ft. – 974 ft. = +3,685 ft. USGS Map(s): Minturn, Mt. of the Holy Cross
Trail Highlights: From the parking area, the trail is a moderately steep climb to Half Moon Pass, passing through spruce-fir stands the first mile then climbing above timberline to the Pass. On the west side of Half Moon Pass, the trail descends, with some steep sections, to East Cross Creek and across. After ascending again toward treeline, look for the big 4 foot tall rock cairns marking the trail along the ridge above treeline. Do not follow small user-created cairns as these are often misleading. Printable Sheet.
Lost Lake Trail
Length: 3.73 miles between trailheads Trail Use: Moderate
Difficulty: Easiest Open To: Hiking, Biking, Horseback, OHV
Beginning Elevation: 9,651 ft. Ending Elevation: 10,043 ft.
Elevation Gain: +808 ft. – 416 ft. = +392 ft. USGS Map(s): Vail West
Trail Highlights: From the west trailhead, the trail follows a ridge dividing the Piney and Red Sandstone drainages while traveling though lodgepole pine and aspen groves. Where the trail forks to the left to Piney Lake, go straight. The trail gradually climbs 600 feet to the trails high point then drops slightly to Lost Lake. Continue .75 mile on the trail to reach the east trailhead. This portion of the trail passes through forest and meadows and crosses Red Sandstone Creek. Printable Sheet.
Cross Creek Trail
Length: 14 miles (one way) Trail Use: Moderate to HighDifficulty: Easiest to More Difficult Open To: Hiking, Horseback
Beginning Elevation: 8,514 ft. Ending Elevation: 11,816 ft.
Elevation Gain: +4,045 ft.-742 ft. = +3,303 ft. USGS Map(s): Minturn, Mt Jackson,Mt of the Holy Cross
Trail Highlights: The trail begins following a ridge and then drops down to Cross Creek. There is a bridge crossing at mile 1 in a meadow that is usually filled with wildflowers. This makes a nice destination point for a short day hike. Or, continue a little further and there is a pond surrounded by rocks that offers a good lunch spot. Around mile 2, Mount of the holy Cross is visible from the trail; on the eastern face of the mountain there is a permanent snow field that is in the shape of a cross. At mile 6, Cross Creek Trail intersects Grouse Mountain Trail. Reed’s Meadow is about 2 miles further and is a long open meadow in a glaciated valley. On the way to Treasure Vault Lake, short side trips to Harvey Lake (at mile 11) and Blodgett Lake (at mile 13) offer good fishing and timberline lake scenery. The last few miles of the trail pass through open meadows with wildflowers and mining relics. There is evidence of mining cabins, ore mills, and old mines. The trail follows an old wagon road to Treasure Vault Lake and the intersection with the Missouri Lakes Trail #2003 and Fancy Pass Trail #2006. Printable sheet.