Trekking Guide to Snowshoe & Hiking Trails in the Vail Area

snowshoeing-in-vail-2Ski season is around the corner. We in Vail will be able to start our quest for epic powder in less than a month. But, there are so many more things to do in Vail than just ski.

While the Antlers at Vail may be your lodging choice in Vail, we like to think that we are so much more than a hotel. We like to think that we make your condo at the Antlers your home away from home, and that we welcome you as a part of our family. And, that includes sharing our favorite Vail activities, and in this case, trails. Below is a summary of some of our favorite snowshoe and hiking trails. But, we have many more to share, so if you are looking for something different just ask our front desk.

Antlers at Vail Trekking Guide: Our Favorite Snowshoe and Hiking Trails

The Antlers at Vail provides a multitude of complimentary amenities for guests including FREE snowshoe rentals and hiking poles! We have selected a few of our favorite trails below to share with you. Please ask the front desk for additional suggestions or a detailed Vail Mountain trail map.

Self-Guided Snowshoe Tours:

Old Vail Pass- East Vail
Length: 4.16 MI one way (6.7KM)
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation Gain: 1,015 FT
Trail Use: Light to moderate
Access from Vail: Exit I-70 at East Vail (Exit 180) and drive 1.9MI East to the end of the plowed South Frontage Rd, just past Main Gore Drive.
Considerations: This was the route that Old Hwy 6 took over Vail Pass before I-70 was built. Before that, this route was used by the Ute Indians. Today, be aware that the snow may be thin during the early winter and spring months due to the pavement below the snow.
Directions: Snowshoe 0.4 MI toward the bike path gate. (Snow may be thin under the highway bridge). Go past the Gore Creek trailhead and campground but don’t tour the drainage due to avalanche danger. The old Vail Pass route is a good mid-winter trail that is gradual and scenic.

Meadow Grouse Loop- Minturn
Length: 6.45 MI loop (10.38KM)
Difficulty: Moderate
Trail Use: Moderate
Access from Vail: Travel West on I-70 to Exit 171 for Minturn (Hwy 24) and turn right at the stop sign (South). Continue underneath the interstate and on the right turn into the Forest Service parking lot. The trail begins at the south end of the parking lot near the white house.
Trail Highlights: Start at Meadow Mountain, follow the trail up for about 0.8 miles to the Grouse Creek connector on the left. Follow the trail southeast to the West Grouse Creek trail, turn right. You will soon reach a junction where the Grouse Lake Trail goes left, but stay right on the West Grouse Creek Trail. The trail stays left of the creek- note the ridge across the creek. It will remain steep until you approach a junction with a logging road. The creek, which is well below until this point, becomes nearly level with the trail. Watch carefully here for the snow-covered road. Turn right onto the road and you will soon find yourself on the Old Meadow Mountain Ski Area runs. You have the choice for following the Meadow Mountain Trail back down to the connector you took earlier or following the old ski runs back down to the base.

Guided Snowshoe Tours: (A safe way to get familiar with terrain.)

Nature Discovery Center (2pm daily)
Join a Walking Mountains Naturalist for an introductory educational snowshoe through the forest atop Vail Mountain. Learn about winter ecology and animal adaptations as you gaze at majestic mountain views. Call 970-754-4675 for details.

Walking Mountains Science Center (Monday – Saturday at 2pm)
Join the science center for a gentle educational hike through aspen and riparian communities. Walks will be conducted on snowshoes as necessary due to snow levels. Call 970-827-9725 for details.

The Vail Nordic Center is located on the Vail Golf Course and offers easy, intermediate, and difficult terrain. Daily groups leave at 10am. Call 970-754-3200 extension 4 for details.

*All the Vail Mountain ski terrain is open for snowshoeing. For safety reasons, please go before or after lift operation hours.

Hiking Trails

Vail Mountain Hiking Trails

Eagle’s Loop Green: Short ridge-top loop with great views of Mount of the Holy Cross – 1 mile (1.6 km), 15-20 minutes
Lower Fireweed Green: Beautiful wooded trail between Eagle’s Nest and Mid-Vail – 1 mile (1.6 km), 30-40 minutes, loop with Upper Fireweed – 2.2 miles (3.5 km), 1 – 1.5 hours
Berrypicker Blue: Starting at Lower Fireweed, this intermediate trail winds down from Mid-Vail or Eagle’s Nest to Vail Village or Lionshead, picnic at Minnie’s Deck along the way – 4.6 miles (7.4 km), 2-3 hours.
Ridge Route Blue: Intermediate ridge climb from Eagle’s Nest to Wildwood and back with spectacular views – 2.8 miles (4.5km), 1.5-2 hours
Bad Simba Black: Steep side trail formerly part of Lionshead Loop – .75 miles (1.2 km)

Other Area Hiking Trails

North Trail (Beginner)
This version of the North Trail begins at the Red Sandstone trailhead on Red Sandstone Rd. From the trailhead, ride west above Vail up countless switchbacks. After 2.0 miles riders will come to an intersection with Buffehr Creek trail. Stay left and continue down a loose and rocky descent. Reaching the bottom, riders will cross Buffehr Creek and traverse around some beaver ponds to an intersection. Follow the signs to continue on the North Trail. The trail begins to climb again with more switchbacks and great views of the Gore and Sawatch Ranges. Eventually, the trail will start to contour and the ride becomes quite enjoyable as it passes through lush aspen groves. In the height of summer, the wildflowers through this section are very impressive. The trail will start to descend towards the Davos trailhead. Stay on the main trail and ride to an intersection with the Davos Hill Climb. Turn right and ride the dirt road (FS 781) 0.42 miles to a gate. Go through the gate to access the last singletrack section of the ride. Descend through the trees to the Trappers Run trailhead. From here, ride the North Frontage Road all the way back to Red Sandstone Rd and the start of the ride.
DIRECTIONS: Drive west on Interstate 70 to Exit 173 West Vail. Take the roundabout east past Safeway and City Market to Red Sandstone Rd. Turn left and drive 0.35 miles to the Red Sandstone trailhead.

Booth Creek Falls (intermediate)
Booth Falls trail climbs north through at a steep start and levels off through clover-scented woodlands. The trail emerges into a meadow full of wildflowers. The trek to the falls is steep but quick, sloping along a creek. The falls is a refreshing stop before heading toward the lake. Hikers will climb northeast into a deep forest where the creek reappears along the trail. As hikers move further into a meadow, look for the trail fork, just above 10,200 feet, where a path to the left takes hikers into the Piney Lakes region through the Piney Creek Trail. The trees will begin to thin and the terrain continually changes. The final climb to the lake is ruthless and difficult because of a rocky, washed-out path. But when hikers finally arrive at the lake, the views are heaven on earth.
DIRECTIONS: Drive about 0.9 miles west from Interstate 70 East Vail Exit 180 to the Booth Falls Road. Turn right and proceed to the end of the road to park near the fence.

Antlers at Vail Hotel Offers Complimentary Snowshoeing for Guests

Snowshoeing at the Antlers at Vail hotel

Photo: Dee and Tula Monstah

“Do something I’ve never done before” is a popular New Year’s resolution, and the Antlers at Vail hotel is making it easy for its guests to try the sport of snowshoeing. “If you can walk, you can snowshoe,” says Antlers General Manager Rob LeVine. “Because our guests love hiking so much in the summer, we decided to invest in snowshoes so they can explore the Vail Valley on foot in the winter.”

Snowshoeing is easy to learn and suited for people of any athletic ability. Beginners might enjoy an easy stroll at the Vail Golf Course, while more experienced athletes can get off the grid with a hike at Vail Pass or take a short drive to Meadow Mountain in nearby Minturn. The Antlers staff is happy to recommend trails, and snowshoes are available on a first-come, first-serve basis to registered guests.

The Antlers Vail offers condominiums ranging from studio suites up to four bedrooms with fully-equipped kitchens, fireplaces, outdoor balconies, free Internet access and free heated indoor parking – plus free snowshoe rental. Every room provides plenty of space to spread out and all the comforts of home, and the Antlers’ Vail-insider staff is on call to answer questions big or small. Conveniently located 200 yards from the Vail Gondola, numerous restaurants, galleries and shops are within walking distance and the free Vail town shuttle stops just footsteps away. For more information, call 1-800-843-8245 or visit www.antlersvail.com.

Complimentary use of snowshoes now at the Antlers

There is more than one way to enjoy the snow here in Vail. At the Antlers we are now offering free use of snowshoes to our guests. Take a pair of our new snowshoes out for a light Vail snowshowl on the bike path or for a vigorous walk up Vail Mountain. Want suggestions on where to go?  Here are some great options;

1. The Beaver Creek Snowshoe Adventure Series continues on Sunday, January 6th.  Register HERE! (Fun for all abilities, beginners included.)

2.  Looking for a unique Vail experience or a kid friendly activity in Vail?  Look no further than Moonlight Vail Snowshoe Tours!  Tours depart from the Discovery Center at Eagle’s Nest (top of the Eagle Bahn gondola in Lionshead) and are available on January 18, 19, 20 & 21 and February 15, 16, 17 & 18 from 7-8:30pm.  Learn astronomy and the habits of nocturnal animals while you snowshoe though the pristine silence of the moonlit mountains.  (Reservations recommended.)

3. How about a full moon snowshoe with a Vail local?  Stop by the front desk and ask our staff.  There are a lot of great ideas out there, but we think the best one is to ask us…that way you always get something personal!

4.  Looking to connect with the solitude and beauty of the mountains in a more laid back way?  Grab a set of our snowshoes and head up Vail mountain at dusk, take a leisurely stroll along the Vail Golf course starting at the Vail Nordic Center, get off the grid with a hike at Vail Pass, or take a short drive to Meadow Mountain in nearby Minturn (be sure to stop by the most historic Vail Valley restaurant/bar at The Minturn Saloon).

However you choose to enjoy this great winter activity, always be safe.  For a few helpful tips for your journey, click HERE.

Happy trails!