The Most Scenic Trails for Adventure Seekers

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Are you searching for inspiration or trying to escape from the city? 

Check out these stunning Vail Valley hiking trails. 

Beaver Lake Trail

Beaver Lake Trail is a 6.3-mile hike located within the Beaver Creek Ski Area near Avon, Colorado. It features a lake and is surrounded by gorgeous wildflowers. It is the perfect place for families to enjoy and create lifetime memories. This hike is rated as moderate and the trail offers plenty of activity options such as picnicking, fishing, and camping. The Beaver Lake Trail starts at the base of Beaver Creek Ski Area and continues up to Lower and Upper Turquoise Lakes, which are located at the foot of Grouse Mountain.

Elevation Gain: 1,689 ft 

Route Type: Out and Back 

Recommended Seasons: June through September

Worth Noting

  • This is a popular trail that has heavy traffic, especially on weekends. Arriving early would help to avoid crowds.
  • The trail has some areas that are steep and rocky.
  • Camping is prohibited within 100 feet of any lake or stream. Camping groups are limited to 15 people. 
  • Dogs are welcome but must be kept on a leash at all times.
  • Public parking is not allowed at the trailhead. Parking is available at Beaver Creek Parking Structure.

What to do after your hike? Top Picks from a Local

  • Enjoy a delicious pizza at Blue Moose Pizza located in Beaver Creek Village. 
  • Pamper yourself at Allegria Spa located in Beaver Creek Village. 
  • Located in Avon, Colorado, which is five minutes from Beaver Creek, the Vail Valley Escape Room offers a team-based adventure for families and friends.

Shrine Ridge Trail 

Located near Vail, Colorado, the 4.6-mile hike begins at Shrine Pass Road and ends at Shrine Mountain Ridge. Shrine Ridge is a well-known, family-friendly trail that features a river and gorgeous wildflowers. The hike is rated easy-moderate making it the perfect destination for a summer family adventure. From the summit of Shrine Mountain, there is a panoramic view of the rugged central Gore Range Peaks to the north, and Mount of the Holy Cross to the west.

Elevation Gain: 961 ft
Route Type: Out and Back
Recommended Seasons: July through September

Worth Noting

  • Arriving early would help to avoid crowds.
  • Dogs are welcome but must be kept on a leash at all times.
  • From Shrine Road (Forest Service Road 709): follow for 3.6km to a parking lot on the left. The trailhead is left of a metal fence at the end of the gravel driveway. Parking is limited
  • This trail is also used for mountain biking so be aware and share the trail. 
  • Early in the season, the gate to the trailhead may be closed if there is still snow. There is an additional 2.4-mile hike in from the gate to the trailhead. 

What to do after your hike? Top Picks from a Local

  • Grab a bite at Altitude Bar & Grill is Vail’s number one sports bar. It serves a varied seasonal menu, which includes gluten-free and vegetarian options. 
  • Call up Sage Outdoor Adventures to go on a unique adventure into the mountains and rivers of Colorado. They offer raft trips, river tubing, fishing, and horseback riding.

Missouri Lakes Trail 

A 7.2- mile hike near Red Cliff, Colorado, the Missouri Lakes Trail is one of the most attractive destinations of the Holy Cross Wilderness. The trail can also be extended to an enjoyable loop trip if done with the Fancy Pass Trail and is perfect for an avid hiker who is seeking a challenge. Offering wonderful scenery that leads to two mesmerizing lakes and a high mountain pass, this trail is a favorite among the locals. 

Elevation Gain: 1,581 ft
Route Type: Out and Back
Recommended Seasons: July through September 

Worth Noting

  • There is a packed dirt road for about 7.5 miles. The road can get bumpy and steep on some spots. 
  • Dogs are welcome but must be kept on a leash at all times.
  • Parking is plentiful and no parking pass is required. 
  • Fishing, camping, and horseback riding are allowed. 

What to do after your hike? Top Picks from a Local

  • Start your day by grabbing a delightful breakfast and a delicious warm cup of coffee at Vail Mountain Coffee & Tea, located in Minturn.
  • Spend an afternoon at The Minturn Saloon, located in the Town of Minturn, which is about 20 minutes away from the trail. 
  • Head into Vail Village and take a scenic gondola ride to the top of Eagle Bahn Gondola in Lionshead. Then, spend a fun and exciting day with Vail Epic Discovery, which offers multiple fun activities such as ziplining, alpine coaster, climbing wall, bungee trampoline, and many more.

As of 6/10/2020, the gate to the trailhead is closed. There is an additional 2.4 miles to the trailhead from the gate. Also, snowshoes will be helpful since there is some snow on the trail.

Upper Piney River Falls Trail 

Piney Lake is one of the most popular hikes in the Vail Valley, as it rewards hikers with spectacular views of the Gore Range. Piney is also Colorado’s most breathtaking destination for weddings, retreats, and day trips. Piney Trail is a 6-mile hike surrounded by aspen trees, wildflowers, and a lake. The Upper Trail crosses several cascades and goes up the valley through meadows and Aspen trees. It is an easy, scenic trip that is fantastic for all ages. The lower part of the trail is popular for hiking and horseback riding; it also provides access to Mt. Powell and to the Piney River for fishing. Some of the activities offered at Piney River Ranch include fly fishing, trail rides, canoes, stand up paddleboards, archery, and workshops. 

Elevation Gain: 731 ft
Route Type: Out and Back
Recommended Seasons: June through September 

Worth Noting

  • Piney River Ranch is located 12 miles from West Vail at the end of Red Sandstone Road. The road is not paved and about 10 miles of the drive are on a rutted, dirt road. However, a four-wheel drive is not necessary. Allow at least 45 minutes from the start of the dirt road to get to Piney River Ranch.
  • Most seasons Piney River Ranch opens no earlier than June 21 and remains open through the last weekend in September. 
  • Parking: Park in the lot before the gate for the Piney River Ranch. The parking is free.
  • Dogs are welcome but must be kept on a leash at all times.
  • There is no cell service or WiFi on the trail or surrounding areas. 

What to do after your hike? Top Picks from a Local

  • Make sure to explore Piney Lake in a canoe.
  • Stay the night and enjoy a remarkable experience at one of their glamping tents or cabins. Learn More
  • Enjoy a meal at Piney River Ranch which offersVail’s finest barbecue. Their menu includes salads, freshly-smoked meats, and side dishes made daily.

Hanging Lake Trail 

Hanging Lake is a 3-mile hike located near Glenwood Springs. This gorgeous hike captures incredible views of the Glenwood Canyon and it is surrounded by Aspen trees and flowers. On the same hike, there is the chance to explore Spouting Rock Falls and walk behind the waterfall. Hanging Lake is rated as a moderate hike because it is steep and rocky in some areas, which makes it challenging. The trail is one of the most beautiful natural attractions in Glenwood that you cannot miss if you are in the area. 

Elevation Gain: 1096 ft
Route Type: Out and Back
Recommended Seasons: May through October

Worth Noting

  • No pets are allowed on the Hanging Lake trail. 
  • There is no cell service on the trail.
  •  New! You must obtain a permit to hike this trail. Reserve your permit ahead of time since the spots are limited. There is no parking at the trailhead. Hikers can choose between self-drive and park at the Hanging Lake rest area or bike/ hike through the Glenwood Canyon to trailhead. There is also a shuttle service from May 1st-October 31st. Check out hanginglake/ to get more information on prices.
  • Standing on the log, swimming, and fishing in the lake are prohibited.

What to do after your hike? Top Picks from a Local

Sylvan Lake State Park 

Sylvan Lake is surrounded by the White River National Forest and offers a year-round experience nestled in the heart of the Rockies. It is located approximately 10 miles southwest of Eagle and it is the perfect setting for a motorboat, fishing, hiking, picnicking, kayaking, camping, and outdoor photography. There are 44 campsites, nine cabins, and three yurts available to reserve for overnight stays. Hikers can easily find numerous trails around the park with more than seven miles of state park trails and accessible access to the national forest. Cross country skiing, ice fishing, ice skating, sledding, and snowshoeing are a few of the winter activities available at Sylvan Lake State Park.

Elevation Gain: 59 ft
Route Type: Out and Back
Recommended Seasons: May through September

Worth Noting

  • A vehicle pass is required for all vehicles entering a State Park. Vehicle fees are separate from camping fees. 
  • Pets are welcome. They must be kept on a six-foot leash and be under control at all times. 
  • One camping unit with up to six people is allowed per campsite.
  • Swimming is prohibited in all State Parks.

What to do after your hike? Top Picks from a Local

  • Make sure to check out Bonfire Brewing located in Eagle, Colorado, which offers a changing selection of beers. 
  • Also located in Eagle, Boneyard is a family-friendly restaurant that features pizza, pasta, burgers, and beer. 
  • Eagle Ranch Golf Club is a terrific choice for regular rounds of golf or a new destination to hang out with friends when visiting Eagle. 
  • Eagle Climbing and Fitness has classes for all ages and abilities. This first-class indoor facility offers top-rope, lead climbing, as well as yoga and fitness classes.

Note: Colorado weather can be unpredictable, so be sure to bring layers. Raincoats, hiking boots, sun protection, and plenty of water are highly recommended in preparation for rain, heat, and high winds that may occur at altitude.