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Hiking on Vail Mountain during the summer is one of the most pleasurable ways to enjoy this mountain paradise. Vail is home to some of the best hiking in Colorado; spend an hour or a day exploring waterfalls, rivers, streams, packed trails, and steep peaks. Dozens of trailheads can be accessed in Vail Valley, just minutes from town.

The Gore Range, with its rugged and pristine mountains, offer challenges for hikers of all skill levels. Whether you plan to attack one of Colorado’s “fourteeners” with summits over 14,000 feet, or to wander along one of many trails leading by mountain lakes or scenic viewpoints, you’re sure to be satisfied.

The chairlifts and gondolas from Vail and Beaver Creek operate all summer. Take one up to the top at Eagle’s Nest, where you will find the start of many wonderful trails. Weave your way through beautiful country flowers, wild strawberry fields, and spacious open meadows. Or take the 3-hour hike from the top of the gondola back down the mountain. For a rigorous day, hike up the mountain before returning by gondola.

Wherever you decide to hike, remember to take in all the wonders around you: mountain peaks, streams, waterfalls, wild flowers, and more. The Forest Service asks you to consider buying a hiking certificate. The cost of this certificate goes toward maintaining the Vail Mountain Rescue Team, a great group of people who will come to your aid whenever you need them! If you purchase the card, your rescue is free!

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Popular Hiking Trails:

Bighorn Creek Trail (More difficult)

Less steep than the other East Vail trails, Bighorn Creek Trail passes beaver ponds, old mining camp remains, and Bighorn Falls. The trail ends at an old homestead cabin located on private property, which offers shelter for hikers who respect this private cabin. 3.6 miles one way, rising 2,200 feet.

Cross Creek Trail (easy to moderate)

A long distance hike, ranging from easy to difficult, that wanders through meadows and old mines, finally ending at Treasure Vault Lake. 15.5 miles, rising 3,300 feet.

Fall Creek Trail (moderate+)

This trail requires about 8 miles of travel on a rough jeep road before getting to the trailhead. The trail climbs to Lake Constantine, crosses Fall Creek, drops down to Seven Sisters Lake, then continues to Hunky Dory Lake. Several side trips can be taken to Notch Mountain, Tuhare Lakes, and Holy Cross City site. 9 miles, rising up to 2,200 feet.

Missouri Lakes Trail (moderate)

A mile into this hike, the trail crosses Cross Creek at the mouth of a miniature canyon, creating a breathtaking view. The trail finally emerges into a large, lush meadow. After a short, steep climb, you’ll be in the basin that holds the Missouri Lakes. 3 miles one way, rising 1,500 feet.

Notch Mountain Trail (moderate - difficult)

Starting at Fall Creek trailhead, this trail passes through spruce and fir stands. Opened in 1924, this trail offers access to the western ridge of Notch Mountain, providing a close-up view of the snowy cross on Mt. of the Holy Cross. 5.3 miles one way, gaining 2,940 feet.

Booth Creek Trail (difficult)

One of the most popular hiking trails in the district, Booth Creek Falls is a popular destination for short hikes. 6 miles one way, rising 3,080 feet.

Deluge Creek Trail (difficult)

One of the steepest trails in the Eagle’s Nest Wilderness, this hike offers panoramic views of the Vail Valley and Gore Range. It comes to an end at Deluge Lake, which lies at the foot of towering granite peaks.

Fancy Pass Trail (difficult)

This trail runs along Fancy Creek, climbs through mature spruce stands, then climbs to Fancy Lake. Continue on to Treasure Vault Lake. 3.25 miles, climbing 2,320 feet.

Shadow Lake (most difficult)

This 10-mile ride starts on King Road, at the junction with Sampson Ave.

West Grouse Creek Trail (more difficult)

Beginning at Hwy 24, this trail climbs along West Grouse Creek, eventually entering dense stands of pine, fir, and spruce. The climb is steep past Waterdog and Olsen Lakes. It then drops down to Turquoise Lakes and the headwaters of Beaver Creek.