Best Summer Hikes in Vail Colorado and Satisfy Your Wanderlust!

Best Summer Hikes in Vail Colorado

Embarking on the best summer hikes in Vail Colorado is a truly unparalleled experience for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike. Nestled within the stunning Rocky Mountains, Vail offers an abundance of picturesque trails that cater to hikers of all skill levels.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore some essential tips for hiking in this beautiful mountain town, including recommendations for beginners as well as seasoned hikers. We’ll also highlight must-see views from popular trails and provide insights into where you can find refreshments along your journey.

Furthermore, we will delve into the fascinating wildlife you may encounter during your best summer hikes in Vail Colorado, and suggest fun activities to enjoy after completing your trek through this breathtaking landscape.

Discover the Best Summer Hikes in Vail, Colorado

Summer is the perfect time to explore the stunning scenery and diverse hiking trails of Vail, Colorado. With its breathtaking views of the Rocky Mountains, lush aspen groves, and crystal-clear lakes, there’s no shortage of adventure waiting for you. This section offers an array of trails that accommodate all abilities, from leisurely walks through meadows filled with blossoms to more demanding climbs up steep mountains.

Upper Piney River Falls Trail

This popular hike takes you on a 6-mile round-trip journey through beautiful alpine forests and meadows filled with colorful wildflowers during the summer months. The trail features gentle elevation gain as it winds along Piney Lake towards the picturesque Upper Piney River Falls. Located within White River National Forest and Eagles Nest Wilderness Area, this trail offers stunning views of the Gore Mountain Range.

Bighorn Creek Trail

A more challenging hike located in East Vail is the Bighorn Creek Trail. This 4-mile round trip trek takes hikers through dense forest before opening up into vast fields dotted with vibrant wildflowers. Along your journey, keep an eye out for local wildlife such as mountain goats grazing among rocky outcrops or marmots sunning themselves on boulders near Bighorn Creek itself.

Gore Valley Trail & Grand Traverse

  • Gore Valley Trail: For those seeking a leisurely stroll close to Vail Village without venturing too far into surrounding mountains or wilderness areas, consider the Gore Valley Trail which follows alongside Gore Creek, offering serene views throughout its length.
  • The Grand Traverse: If you’re looking for a more challenging hike with rewarding views, consider the Grand Traverse. This 6-mile loop trail starts at Vail Mountain’s Eagle Bahn Gondola and takes hikers through beautiful aspen groves, past pristine alpine lakes, and up steep sections of mountain terrain before reaching its highest point – The Grand Traverse ridge.

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Betty Ford Alpine Gardens & Strawberry Lane Trail

If you prefer shorter hikes that still offer breathtaking scenery, check out these two trails located near Vail Village:

  • Betty Ford Alpine Gardens: A leisurely stroll through Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, one of the world’s highest botanical gardens situated at an elevation of 8,200 feet above sea level.
  • Strawberry Lane Trail: For those who want to explore Vail Mountain without committing to a full day hike or strenuous climb, can opt for Strawberry Lane Trail which is a moderate 3-mile round trip trek offering panoramic views over West Vail and Gore Creek Valley.

No matter your skill level or desired intensity of adventure during your visit to Vail, Colorado, there are plenty of hiking trails waiting for you to discover. Don’t forget to pack your hiking boots and get ready for unforgettable outdoor experiences in this spectacular mountain town.

Vail Colorado offers some of the best summer hikes in the country, and with these tips for hiking in Vail, you’ll be able to explore this beautiful area safely and confidently.

The Key Takeaway: 

Explore the spectacular Rocky Mountains and crystal-clear lakes of Vail, Colorado with a selection of summer hikes suitable for all levels. From easy strolls through wildflower meadows to challenging treks up steep mountain slopes, there’s something for everyone – including Upper Piney River Falls Trail, Bighorn Creek Trail, Gore Valley Trail & Grand Traverse, Betty Ford Alpine Gardens & Strawberry Lane Trail.

Tips for Hiking in Vail

Before you embark on your adventure through the stunning scenery of Vail’s hiking trails, it’s essential to be prepared and know what to expect. Here are some valuable tips that will help ensure a safe and enjoyable experience while exploring the White River National Forest and surrounding mountains.

Pack the Essentials

  • Hiking boots: A good pair of hiking boots is crucial for navigating rocky terrain, steep sections, and potential wet areas along the trail.
  • Water: Stay hydrated by bringing plenty of water with you – at least two liters per person for a day hike.
  • Sun protection: Sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat are necessary during summer months when UV rays can be intense at high elevations.
  • Layers: Dressing in layers allows you to adjust your clothing as temperatures change throughout the day or if weather conditions shift unexpectedly.
  • Navigational tools: A map or GPS device can help keep you on track while exploring popular hikes like Upper Piney River Falls Trail or Bighorn Creek Trail.

Familiarize Yourself with Local Wildlife

Vail Colorado is home to various wildlife species such as mountain goats, elk, deer, bears, and foxes. It’s important to learn about their habits so that encounters remain safe for both hikers and animals. You may also want to carry bear spray just in case there are any unexpected meetings along the way.

Maintain Proper Etiquette on Trails

Respect other hikers and the environment by practicing proper trail etiquette. This includes yielding to uphill traffic, staying on designated trails, packing out all trash, and respecting any posted signs or closures.

Know Your Limits

Vail hiking trails offer a range of difficulty levels from easy walks like Gore Valley Trail to more challenging hikes such as Grand Traverse. Be honest with yourself about your fitness level and choose a hike that matches your abilities. Keep in mind factors like elevation gain, distance, and terrain when selecting a trail.

Check Weather Conditions

Before setting out, make sure to check the local weather forecasts for potential changes in conditions. Be prepared for sudden storms by carrying rain gear and extra layers if needed.

With these tips in hand, you’re ready to explore Vail’s stunning Vail Valley, discover favorite hikes among locals and visitors alike, and enjoy breathtaking views along popular hiking trails. Happy exploring.

With the right preparation and knowledge, hiking in Vail can be a safe and enjoyable experience. Newcomers to Vail can discover some great paths for their initial outdoor excursions, including the finest ones.

The Key Takeaway: 

Before setting off for a trek in Vail, it is essential to bring the necessary items such as hiking shoes, H2O, sunblock, and navigational aids. Familiarize yourself with local wildlife and maintain proper trail etiquette while knowing your limits and checking weather conditions before heading out for a day hike or longer excursion.

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The Best Trails for Beginners

For those just starting out or looking for a gentle outdoor experience, Vail has plenty of trails suited to the novice hiker. These easy hikes offer breathtaking views and opportunities to explore nature without requiring too much physical exertion. Here are some popular beginner-friendly trails in the Vail area:

Piney River Ranch Trail

The Piney River Ranch Trail is an excellent choice for first-time hikers or families with young children. This 6-mile round-trip hike takes you along the shores of Piney Lake and offers incredible views of the Gore Mountain Range. With minimal elevation gain and well-maintained paths, this trail is perfect for those seeking a relaxing day hike.

Gore Valley Trail

This scenic Gore Valley Trail follows Gore Creek from East Vail all the way to West Vail, passing through aspen groves and open meadows along its 12-mile length. While it’s possible to complete this trail in one day, many choose to break it up into smaller sections – making it ideal for beginner hikers who want a taste of what Vail has to offer.

Betty Ford Alpine Gardens Loop

Nestled within walking distance from bustling Vail Village, the tranquil Betty Ford Alpine Gardens offer a short, easy loop trail that showcases the beauty of Colorado’s native plants and flowers. This 0.5-mile trail is perfect for those who want to enjoy nature without venturing too far from town.

Strawberry Lane Trail

The Strawberry Lane Trail offers a gentle hike through lush forests and open meadows with stunning views of Vail Mountain and the surrounding mountains. For those new to hiking, the Strawberry Lane Trail provides a perfect opportunity for exploration with its 4-mile round trip and stunning views of Vail Mountain.

Don a pair of comfy hiking shoes, tote some H2O, and remember the sunscreen when you embark on your journey through Vail’s natural beauty. Now is the ideal moment to don your walking boots and set off on a journey through the stunning Vail Valley.

Exploring Vail Colorado on foot is a great opportunity to enjoy nature and there are many trails that even novices can tackle. With some of the most breathtaking views, you won’t want to miss out on these popular trails.

The Key Takeaway: 

The best summer hikes in Vail, Colorado cater to beginners with easy trails that offer breathtaking views and opportunities to explore nature without requiring too much physical exertion. Some popular beginner-friendly trails include the Piney River Ranch Trail, Gore Valley Trail, Betty Ford Alpine Gardens Loop, and Strawberry Lane Trail. Be sure to don supportive hiking footwear, take a sufficient amount of hydration, and bring sunscreen when out in the sun during summertime.

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One of the main reasons hikers flock to Vail, Colorado, is for the stunning scenery that awaits them on every trail. Vail’s Rocky Mountain landscape offers hikers an array of breathtaking sights, from lush aspen groves and alpine meadows to rugged mountain peaks and pristine lakes. Here are some must-see sights you’ll encounter while exploring popular hiking trails in Vail:

a) Upper Piney River Falls Trail

This moderate day hike takes you through beautiful aspen groves, wildflower-filled meadows, and along the scenic Piney River before reaching the spectacular Upper Piney Falls. The cascading waterfall is an awe-inspiring sight set against a backdrop of dramatic cliffs.

b) Shrine Ridge Trail

A favorite among locals and visitors alike, Shrine Ridge Trail offers panoramic views of both the Gore Range and Flat Top Mountains. During the summer months, expect vibrant displays of wildflowers throughout your hike – making it an unforgettable experience.

c) Booth Falls Trail

The challenging yet rewarding Booth Falls Trail leads hikers up steep sections with an elevation gain of over 3000 feet to reach Booth Lake nestled within the Holy Cross Wilderness area. Along the way, enjoy jaw-dropping vistas of surrounding mountains and the valley below.

d) Bighorn Creek Trail

Located in East Vail, the BerryPicker Trail is a moderately challenging trek that takes you through lush woodlands, aspen thickets, and grassy glades. As you reach higher elevations, enjoy stunning views of the Gore Mountain Range and even catch glimpses of mountain goats roaming around.

e) BerryPicker Trail

This popular trail starts from either Vail Village or Lionshead area and climbs up to 2100 feet, offering breathtaking views of Vail Valley along the way. The BerryPicker Trail also passes by Betty Ford Alpine Gardens – perfect for a quick stop to admire beautiful alpine flowers before continuing your ascent.

No matter which trails you choose to explore during your visit to Vail, Colorado, this summer season, be prepared for some truly awe-inspiring scenery that will leave lasting memories. So grab those hiking boots and hit these trails with friends or family members while enjoying all nature has to offer in this picturesque mountain town.

The stunning views from the popular trails in Vail Colorado are some of the most breathtaking sights you will ever witness. Next, we’ll explore where to find refreshments along your hike so that you can stay energized and hydrated while exploring this beautiful area.

The Key Takeaway: 

Hikers flock to Vail, Colorado for the stunning scenery that awaits them on every trail. The Upper Piney River Falls Trail offers a moderate day hike with beautiful aspen groves and wildflower-filled meadows, while the challenging Booth Falls Trail leads hikers up steep sections to reach Booth Lake nestled within the Holy Cross Wilderness area.

Where to Find Refreshments Along Your Hike

When setting out on a hiking excursion through the picturesque Vail, Colorado countryside, it is vital to keep your energy and hydration levels up. Fortunately, there are numerous places to find sustenance and refreshment along the Vail hiking trails to help you stay energized. Let’s explore some of these locations that will help keep your energy up during your adventure.

A. Piney Lake

Located at the end of Upper Piney River Falls Trail, Piney Lake offers an idyllic spot for a picnic with picturesque views of the surrounding mountains and Flat Top Mountains in the distance. Don’t forget to pack some sandwiches and enjoy them by this serene lake.

B. Vail Village & Lionshead Village

If you’re exploring trails around Vail Village or Lionshead Village, such as Strawberry Lane Trail or Berrypicker Trail, you’ll find plenty of cafes and restaurants nearby where you can grab a bite after your hike. From cozy coffee shops to delicious eateries offering local cuisine, there is something for everyone here.

C. Betty Ford Alpine Gardens Cafe

The beautiful Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, located near Gore Creek, is a must-visit destination for nature lovers. After exploring the gardens and nearby trails like Gore Valley Trail, stop by their cafe to enjoy a refreshing drink or snack surrounded by lush greenery.

D. East Vail General Store

For those hiking in East Vail on trails such as Bighorn Creek Trail or Booth Falls Trail, consider stopping at East Vail General Store. This charming store offers sandwiches, snacks, and beverages perfect for refueling after your hike.

Remember to always carry enough water with you during your hikes in the summer months. It’s essential to stay hydrated while enjoying outdoor activities in the Rocky Mountains. Don’t forget your hiking boots and reusable water bottle, and refill it whenever possible.

Refreshments can be found along your hike in Vail, Colorado from various local stores and restaurants. Be sure to keep an eye out for wildlife as you continue on your journey; the next heading will cover what animals you may encounter during your summer hikes.

The Key Takeaway: 

This section highlights the importance of staying energized and hydrated during hikes in Vail, Colorado. It suggests various locations along popular hiking trails where hikers can stop for refreshments such as Piney Lake, Vail Village & Lionshead Village, Betty Ford Alpine Gardens Cafe, and East Vail General Store. The article also emphasizes carrying enough water while hiking to stay hydrated in the Rocky Mountains.

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Wildlife You May Encounter on Your Hike

One of the many joys of hiking in Vail, Colorado is the opportunity to encounter a variety of wildlife species that call this beautiful region home. From majestic mountain goats to curious marmots, your hikes through the White River National Forest and surrounding mountains can be both exciting and educational as you learn about these fascinating creatures.

A. Mammals Commonly Seen on Vail Trails

  • Mountain Goats: Known for their incredible agility and ability to scale steep sections with ease, mountain goats are often spotted along rocky outcrops or high-elevation trails such as Shrine Ridge Trail or Bighorn Creek Trail.
  • Mule Deer: These graceful animals are frequently seen grazing in meadows near popular hikes like Booth Falls Trail or Gore Valley Trail during summer months.
  • Marmots: Keep an eye out for these curious critters sunbathing on rocks or scampering around alpine tundra areas while exploring trails like Lost Lake Trail or East Vail’s Piney Lake area.
  • Bighorn Sheep: Although less common than other mammals mentioned here, bighorn sheep may occasionally be observed along challenging hike routes within Holy Cross Wilderness or Gore Mountain Range.

B. Bird Species Found Along Hiking Trails

In addition to mammal sightings, bird enthusiasts will delight in spotting various avian species throughout their outdoor adventures in Vail Valley. Some notable birds found here include golden eagles soaring above treelines at higher elevations and colorful western tanagers flitting through aspen groves along the Berrypicker Trail.

C. Tips for Safely Observing Wildlife

While encountering wildlife on your hikes can be an exciting experience, it’s important to remember these tips for safely observing them from a distance:

  1. Maintain a safe distance: Keep at least 100 yards away from large animals like mountain goats or deer and 50 yards away from smaller mammals or birds.
  2. Never feed wildlife: Feeding wild animals can cause them to become dependent on humans and may lead to dangerous encounters in the future.
  3. Avoid approaching young animals or nests: Parental instincts are strong in nature, so steer clear of baby animals or nesting sites to avoid provoking protective parents.
  4. Pack binoculars or a camera with a zoom lens: To get close-up views without disturbing wildlife, consider bringing along binoculars or a camera equipped with a zoom lens during your hike.

Hiking amidst Vail’s stunning scenery offers not only breathtaking vistas but also opportunities to observe fascinating local fauna. By following these guidelines for responsible wildlife viewing, you’ll ensure that both you and the creatures who call this region home have enjoyable experiences out on the trails.

Exploring the great outdoors in Vail Colorado can be an exciting adventure, with potential wildlife sightings of many different species at every turn. From marmots to elk, there’s always something new waiting around every corner. Now let’s explore some fun activities you can enjoy after your hike in Vail Colorado.

The Key Takeaway: 

Exploring Vail, Colorado can bring the chance to witness a variety of wildlife like mountain goats, mule deer, and marmots. Bird enthusiasts can also spot different avian species like golden eagles and western tanagers along hiking trails. It’s important to observe these creatures from a safe distance while avoiding feeding them or approaching young animals or nests for responsible wildlife viewing.

Fun Activities After Your Hike

From fishing and camping to visiting nearby attractions like lakes and rivers, here are some suggestions for outdoor activities to keep the adventure going.

Fishing in Vail Valley

If you’re an angler at heart or just want to try something new, fishing in Vail Valley is a must-do activity during the summer months. With numerous creeks, rivers, and alpine lakes teeming with trout species such as rainbow trout, brown trout, brook trout, and cutthroat trout – it’s no wonder why anglers from all over flock to this area. Don’t forget your fishing gear.

Camping in White River National Forest

Venture into the great outdoors by spending a night under the stars at one of many campgrounds within White River National Forest. Whether you prefer tent camping or have an RV ready for action; there’s a spot waiting for you amidst picturesque aspen groves surrounded by majestic Rocky Mountains.

  • Gore Creek Campground: Located near East Vail along Gore Creek – perfect for those who love water-based outdoor activities such as fly-fishing or kayaking.
  • Piney Lake Campground: Nestled on Piney Lake shores offering breathtaking views of the Gore Mountain Range – ideal for a serene and peaceful getaway.
  • Red Cliff Campground: Situated near the charming town of Red Cliff, this campground offers easy access to hiking trails and off-roading adventures in the surrounding mountains.

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Exploring Nearby Attractions

Vail’s surrounding areas offer numerous attractions worth visiting after your hike. Some popular options include:

  • Betty Ford Alpine Gardens: Located in Vail Village, these beautiful gardens showcase alpine plants from around the world and provide an educational experience for visitors of all ages.
  • Glenwood Canyon: Just a short drive away from Vail, Glenwood Canyon is home to Hanging Lake – one of Colorado’s most famous hikes – as well as scenic overlooks, picnic spots, and opportunities for rafting or kayaking on the Colorado River.
  • Beaver Creek Resort: A neighboring resort offering outdoor activities such as mountain biking, golfing, and horseback riding tours during summer months; it also hosts various events throughout the season that are fun for everyone.

No matter how you choose to spend your time exploring Vail’s stunning hiking trails, there is no shortage of exciting outdoor activities waiting just around every corner. So lace up those hiking boots once more and continue discovering all that this beautiful area has to offer.

The Key Takeaway: 

After a day of hiking in Vail, Colorado, there are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy including fishing in the White River National Forest or Sylvan Lake State Park. For those who prefer camping under the stars, Piney Lake and Gore Creek Campground offer picturesque campsites while Holy Cross Wilderness Area provides a backcountry camping experience. Additionally, nearby attractions like Beaver Creek Resort, Glenwood Canyon, and Betty Ford Alpine Gardens provide opportunities for more adventures.

FAQs about Best Summer Hikes in Vail Colorado

Can You Hike Vail in Summer?

Yes, hiking in Vail during the summer is a popular activity for both locals and tourists. The area offers numerous trails with varying difficulty levels, suitable for all ages and fitness levels. Summer months provide ideal weather conditions to explore the beautiful landscapes of Vail.

Is Vail Worth Visiting in the Summer?

Vail is definitely worth visiting in the summer as it transforms into an outdoor paradise offering various activities such as hiking, mountain biking, golfing, and more. With its stunning scenery and pleasant climate, visitors can enjoy a memorable vacation amidst nature’s beauty.

Does Vail Have Good Hiking?

Vail boasts excellent hiking opportunities with diverse trails that cater to different skill levels. From scenic walks through wildflower meadows to challenging treks up high peaks, there are options for everyone looking to experience breathtaking views and immerse themselves in nature.

What Is the Most Scenic Hike in Colorado?

The most scenic hike in Colorado depends on personal preferences; however, one highly recommended trail is Hanging Lake Trail near Glenwood Springs. This moderate 2-mile round trip takes hikers past cascading waterfalls leading up to Hanging Lake, known for its turquoise waters surrounded by lush greenery.


Whether you’re a novice or an expert, the trails in Vail provide plenty of picturesque scenery and demanding terrain. As you journey, there’s a chance to spot animals like mountain goats and beavers, plus rest stops scattered along the way.

If you’re looking for fun activities after your hike, Vail offers many options including mountain biking, visiting Betty Ford Alpine Gardens or exploring Glenwood Canyon. Don’t miss out on these must-see views from popular trails like Upper Piney River Falls Trail and Booth Falls Trail.

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