Best Hikes Near Breckenridge and Vail  by Maryann Gaug

Best Hikes Near Breckenridge and Vail Guide Book

by Maryann Gaug (Falcon Guides)
Best Hikes Near Breckenridge and Vail  by Maryann Gaug
Rugged peaks reflected in high mountain lakes, sparkling streams tumbling through flower-filled meadows, high ridges where the view is forever, and a rich mining history make the country around Breckenridge and Vail a hiking gem. Today’s hiking trails may have started when Native Americans followed game trails for their summer hunts. Miners scoured the area hoping to strike it rich after gold was found in the region’s creeks. Railroads followed to move ore and bring supplies. Settlers arrived and worked the land, living here year-round through beautiful summers and snowy, cold winters.

© 2014 Maryann Gaug/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "Best Hikes Near Breckenridge and Vail" Guide Book
Displaying trails 20 of 40.

Displaying trails 1 to 20 of 40.

Beaver Lake is a small gem tucked between forested hills just inside the Holy Cross Wilderness. The hike starts near the base of the Centennial Lift at the Beaver Creek Ski Area, follows a nature trail with interpretive signs, then joins the Beaver Lake Trail. It wanders along Beaver Creek, passing various ski area buildings and under chairlifts, providing a summer view of the ski area. Colorful wildflowers and bushes line the trail. While steep in places, the trail has some mellow spots that provide a place to catch your breath. Little sh swim in Beaver Lake, a great place to relax. An option to go or return a different way, including a chairlift ride, is also given.
Minturn, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 6.2
Beautiful Booth Lake with its little island is tucked in an alpine cirque with fantastic wildflowers. The trail climbs through forest and meadows past Booth Falls, a 60-foot waterfall. It continues to ascend like a giant staircase to fields of wildflowers that dazzle the eyes. Little waterfalls add their sparkle. One last climb up the side of the cirque brings you to the lake, a piece of paradise tucked up in the Gore Range. A backpack to the meadows below the lake may be the best way to enjoy this special place. You can also turn around at the falls for a 4-mile out-and-back hike.
Minturn, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 9.8
Upon reaching the top of Bowman’s Shortcut, you may start singing the Sound of Music. Great views of Mount of the Holy Cross and the Sawatch Range to the southwest, the Gore Range to the east, and the Tenmile Range to the south uplift the spirit. Colorful wildflowers fill the meadows in July. Bowman’s Shortcut Trail is often gently interspersed with a few steep stretches. The trail winds through lodgepole and spruce-fir forest then crosses several open meadows on a gentle ridge. In winter this trail is part of the Commando Run of the US Army’s 10th Mountain Division fame.
Whiteriver, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 5.4
The huge granite dome called Buffalo Mountain towers above Dillon Reservoir and the towns of Silverthorne and Frisco. Such an imposing mountain attracts climbers, and over the years people scrambled up, creating “climbers’ trails” to the summit. Buffalo Mountain now boasts a summit trail that, while still difficult, is much more hiker and environmentally friendly. “Still difficult” means a 23 percent grade for 0.6 mile through a boulder field. The climb is well worth the effort for the views, beautiful tundra flowers, and a chance to see the mountain goat family that grazes on the high slopes.
Silverthorne, CO - Backcountry Skiing & Snowboarding,Climbing,Hiking,Horseback Riding - Trail Length: 6
Hike along an undulating, rocky trail through a forest lush with wildflowers and berry bushes. Spruce, fir, lodgepole pine, and aspen grow amid house-sized boulders draped in moss and lichen. Cross Creek tumbles where the land drops steeply and slows into pools where fish tease anglers. Past the bridge over Cross Creek, the trail winds through a lush forest to rocky terrain with views of the tip of Mount of the Holy Cross. Ferns almost hide the trail through an aspen forest. Enjoy your lunch next to a grass-lined little lake that momma and baby ducks enjoy.
Whiteriver, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 5.2
The Dillon Reservoir Recreation Area offers easy-to-moderate hiking opportunities in the Dillon Nature Preserve Open Space. The mostly flat, gated service road to the West Portal of the Roberts Tunnel is hikable year-round, while the forested Meadow Loop and Ridge Trails can sometimes be obscured by snow. Because the trail is lower than many in central Summit County, the snow melts faster and the flowers bloom earlier here. Keep your eyes open for fox, pine squirrels, deer, red-tailed hawks, and ospreys. Enjoy the beautiful views of the Gore Range and the Tenmile Range across the blue waters of Dillon Reservoir.
Dillon, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.8
Surrounded by spruce-fir forest, Eaglesmere Lakes, remnants from the last ice age, are slowly filling in with grass. A great view of craggy Eagles Nest, the peak after which the Eagles Nest Wilderness was named, treats your eye from the trail and at the farthest lake. At 13,310 feet, Eagles Nest is the second-highest peak in the Gore Range, while nearby Mount Powell at 13,566 feet is the highest. The lakes are a nice backpacking destination, but are also a great day hike, especially during autumn when the aspen leaves turn gold.
Silverthorne, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 7.6
The East Lake Creek Trail is a pleasant roller coaster through lush aspen forest with many types of vegetation, including thimbleberry and bracken ferns. The hike climbs about 230 feet, only to descend 300 feet to the sturdy bridge over East Lake Creek. What goes down to the creek must go back up to the parking lot. This trail is beautiful in autumn when the aspen leaves turn gold and the many bushes show o their red berries and red, orange, and yellow leaves.
Edwards, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.6
The Gore Creek Trail climbs steeply at first then undulates above or along rough-and-tumble Gore Creek. Ascending the drainage, you roam through coniferous forest and open meadows, past aspen trees, lush bushes, and colorful wildflowers—a new scene around each bend. After 4.4 miles the trail to Gore Lake passes the Recen brothers’ graves, climbing very steeply for a while, then winds through a gorgeous area until reaching the lake, nestled in a cirque beneath craggy peaks. Many nice lunch spots can be found to enjoy the lake and ridges.
Whiteriver, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 12.4
Grizzly Creek tumbles and cascades merrily through a thick forest filled with wildflowers and berry bushes. You can hike as far as you like while enjoying this beautiful little canyon with its limestone cliffs. The hike description takes you down to the creek across from an aqueduct that carries water from Grizzly Creek to No Name Creek and on to Glenwood Springs for drinking water. Back in 1881 a wealthy game hunter reportedly shot the largest grizzly bear in western Colorado in the upper end of this canyon—hence the name Grizzly Creek. Although grizzlies lived for years in the western part of Colorado, their population declined dramatically after 1900. A hunting guide killed a grizzly in Colorado in 1979 in the San Juan Mountains. Today they are no longer found in the state to the best of anyone’s knowledge.
Eagle, CO - Hiking,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 7.4
The hike to Grouse Lake follows Grouse Creek, which could be more aptly named Berry Bush Creek—especially the first section. The trail climbs steadily through spruce-fir forest interspersed with aspen. A few flatter sections provide ample time to catch your breath. Moss-covered rocks punctuate little creeks, and flowers border the trail. Pointy Grouse Peak overlooks a long valley that holds grass-lined Grouse Lake. The lake lies just within the Holy Cross Wilderness.
Whiteriver, CO - Hiking,Horseback Riding - Trail Length: 9.2
Wander across some of Copper Mountain’s west-side ski trails filled with wildflowers on section eight of the 483-mile Colorado Trail, then wind down to the confluence of Jacque and Guller Creeks. Remnants of the old days of mining and logging mix with today’s white gold (snow riding) along this trail. Hike along beautiful willow-lined Guller Creek through little meadows filled with colorful flowers to the remains of an old cabin. A shorter, 6.4-mile out-and-back hike is also listed.
Silverthorne, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 9.2
A must-see in the Glenwood Canyon area, turquoise-colored Hanging Lake nestles in a bowl amid limestone and sandstone cliffs. The trail is an extremely popular and steep climb up a narrow canyon, winding through thick vegetation and trees, passing miniwaterfalls and cascades. The final section takes you up big rock steps complete with metal handrails. A boardwalk on the south end of the lake helps to protect the fragile environment. Across the lake aptly named Bridal Veil Falls tumble down a cliff. Be sure to take a side trip to Spouting Rock, where water spouts from the side of the cliff.
Glenwood Springs, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.2
The Iowa Hill Hydraulic Placer Mine is explored along this historical interpretive trail. The hike takes you back over 125 years in history to the days when miners panned for gold then developed techniques using water cannons, called hydraulic giants or monitors, to wash the dirt on the sides of gulches into sluice boxes to capture gold particles. Mining History News rates this trail as having “one of the best hydraulic mining exhibits in the world.” The restored two-story log Miners’ Boarding House on the trail can be toured with a guide.
Breckenridge, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.2
The Jess Weaver Trail follows No Name Creek through lush forest, past boulder fields beneath ancient cliffs, and along a sparkling, cascading creek. The pretty trail sometimes wanders gently along the creek and at other times climbs steeply above it. Ferns flourish in damper areas. This hike ends at the bridge that crosses No Name Creek about 3 miles up—although the trail continues. Some places may be impassable during high runoff in spring. The many deciduous trees turn gold and red in autumn, making this trail a delightful hike.
Rifle, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 6.2
This gentle, uncrowded hike follows an old mining road then travels on the Gore Range Trail (GRT), climbing a lateral moraine left by two epochs of glaciers. The GRT wanders around the top of the forested glacial debris, past many small ponds, some covered with lily pads. Conifers grow thickly on the moraine—mainly lodgepole pine interspersed with a few aspen, spruce, and fir. You’ll notice many dead lodgepole pines, killed by the mountain pine beetle. Dropping down to cross South Rock Creek, the trail crosses a few boggy areas then climbs to an unnamed lake. The peaceful destination provides views of Red Peak, with its craggy ridge, and the Thorn.
Silverthorne, CO - Hiking,Horseback Riding - Trail Length: 6.4
Lake Charles sits in a high basin beneath rocky peaks in the Sawatch Range. The beautiful setting makes a great destination for a day hike or an overnight backpack. Climbing past moss-draped boulders, through thick forest, occasionally near a sparkling creek, and through wildflower gardens, the trail steadily gains elevation. Water is plentiful in the area, and the resultant vegetation is thick and lush. Two steep climbs take you higher in the East Brush Creek valley. Several campsites can be found at appropriate distances (100 feet) from water and trails near Lake Charles. Enjoy the scenery during lunch or stay a night or two.
Eagle, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 9.2
Long Lake Constantine lies nestled in a high valley beneath the elongated ridge of 13,271-foot Whitney Peak and the ridge running south of Notch Mountain. The sights along the trail constantly change as it contours high above Fall Creek. After the Notch Mountain Trail junction, the trail climbs and descends numerous times before reaching the lake. At one point a rock ledge comes across the trail. The trail first winds through thick spruce-fir forest, but later crosses beautiful meadows before arriving at the picturesque lake.
Whiteriver, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 8
The Lenawee Trail provides some fantastic views of Summit County and into Eagle County as you wind your way along the alpine tundra. The trail climbs 1,650 feet in the first 2 miles through thick forest. Once above treeline the trail mellows a little and the views are expansive the higher you climb. The long ridge of Lenawee Mountain lies before you. Eventually you traverse its south flank to a narrow ridge with a rocky outcrop. Continue along the trail, dropping to the top of Arapahoe Basin’s Zuma Lift for more fantastic views and colorful wildflowers. Keep an eye open for mountain goats!
Silverthorne, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 6.8
Lily Pad Lake is a very popular destination reachable from two different trailheads. This hike description starts on the Meadow Creek Trail near Frisco, which provides the most diverse scenery and wildflowers. Lily Pad Lake itself contains only a few lily pads (yellow pond lilies), but a nearby smaller lake contains many, especially along the shore. Buffalo Mountain towers above the lake. Good views of the Frisco area can be seen along the trail. When you arrive at Lily Pad Lake, the bigger of the two lakes, you might wonder why it has so few water lilies on it. The lake used to be smaller, but beavers built a dam and enlarged it. (Look for the old beaver lodge near the southwest shore.) The yellow pond lilies did not like the enlarged lake, perhaps because of the change in depth or water fl ow. They prefer shallow (no more than 6 feet deep) and quiet water. The pond lilies’ leaves (pads) are connected to a stem that is attached to a rootstock (a rhizome with roots) that grows sideways.
Silverthorne, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.4