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Hiking In The Vail Valley

Updated on July 26, 2010

Hiking in the Vail Valley is always a pleasant experience and there are so many exciting, thrilling and soul inspiring hikes to take in the area that the biggest problem by far will be deciding which one to take first.

The Whitney Lake Trail climbs steeply through magnificent groves of aspen and meadows that are literally like walking on wildflowers. Featuring spectacular views of the Sawatch Range will prepare you for the magnificence of the turquoise clear Whitney Lake with the mighty Whitney Peak soaring 13,271 directly behind it. The Grouse Lake Trail is another very popular and enthralling hike, following the sides of Grouse Creek through coniferous and aspen woodlands as well as phenomenal wildflower meadows all the way up to Grouse Lake. Once there, a bit of a cross country hike will allow you to pick up the West Grouse Creek Trail to allow you to go even further into spectacular country with stunning scenery all around you.

The Notch Mountain Trail starts at the Fall Creek Trailhead and continues for almost three miles through coniferous forest. When you reach the junction with the Notch Mountain Trail you must keep to the right and you will be climbing steadily up past the timberline to the Notch Mountain Shelter, built in 1924 to assist the hundreds of people who would hike a pilgrimage to see the Mountain of the Holy Cross.

You'll likely see pikas and marmots playing through the wildflowers and also enjoy gorgeous views of the snowy cross on the mountain. If you want to try the Piney River Trail, you can start at the east end of the lake and follow the north side of the Piney River for about five miles where you will encounter a handful of very steep and rocky sections.

Then the trail broadens and flattens out a bit and you will be able to view magnificent meadows and dense woodlands. You'll have to cross the river back and forth several times and then undergo a good two miles of quite strenuous hiking up a steep trail that is difficult to stay on, so you will likely get off the trail and have to find your way back on several occasions. As you get to the lower part of the trail you will be close to Vail itself and you will find that it all gets considerably busier due to the large number of hikers and horseback riders down here.

Of course you can't miss out on taking a long languid drive through some of the most breathtaking scenery anywhere in the world on the Flat Tops Trail Scenic Byway and the Top Of The Rockies National Scenic Byway. Make sure also to check out:

  • Vail Alpine Gardens
    183 Gore Creek Dr
  • DeMott Gallery
    183-3A Gore Creek Dr
  • Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater
    530 S Frontage Rd
  • J Cotter Gallery Gold Silvrsmith
    234 Wall St
  • Clagget/Rey Gallery
    100 E Meadow Dr
  • Cogswell Gallery
    198 Gore Creek Dr
  • Colorado Ski Museum & Ski Hall of Fame
    231 S Frontage Rd E


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