Upper Piney River Falls Trail

MODERATE 157 reviews
#2 of 26 trails in

Upper Piney River Falls Trail is a 5.9 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Vail, Colorado that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from May until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
5.9 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
731 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

kid friendly

birding

cross country skiing

hiking

horseback riding

snowshoeing

forest

lake

river

views

waterfall

snow

The first few miles undulate gently through meadows with good spots for lunch, relaxation, and great views. The trail climbs through aspen and mixed conifer forest, crossing numerous little creeks before switchbacking downhill.

9 days ago

Amazing view! Our 3 boys loved it and one is 4 years old. Don’t miss this trail.

hiking
10 days ago

Easy dirt road to drive. Most of it is like a graded county road, though toward the end it is a little more bumpy. A sedan can make it, though smoother in an SUV. At the end of the road is a "resort" with a restaurant, lake for paddle boarding and horses. Since it takes 30 minutes to get there on the road (45 minutes if you get behind someone slow), make a day out of it.
The hike is easy. Starts through a meadow. Wildflowers are weak now. Aspen groves would make a great fall trail. Light incline for a while, then a few long switch backs. It appears most people stop at the first area that reaches the creek with a tiny waterfall. However if you go downstream there is a less traveled, steeper trail that leads to the bottom of a much taller cascade. For pics and more info: https://etbtravelphotography.com/2018/07/31/a-weekend-in-vail/

hiking
11 days ago

Very nice mellow hike. We got to the trailhead about 9 am and there were only a few other people, but the trail became heavily trafficked to packed near the lake on the way back. A lot of the people were visiting from other states and not respectful of the fragility of the high alpine environment (taking short cuts between switchbacks and walking over obviously blocked off shortcuts). The trail is well-maintained, and although most of the wildflowers are gone for the season, a few pockets remained. The cataracts were pretty small with the low water level, but it was still worth the hike. The views of the Gore Range are incredible and worth the drive.

hiking
14 days ago

This was a great day - highly recommend if you have the time to spare. 45-minute drive on pretty rough forest road to Piney River Ranch but very scenic. The Ranch has several options for activities including a restaurant, lake for paddling and fishing and horseback riding. We had lunch in the restaurant and it was really good! The trail is great for beginners and kids. Pretty out and back to the falls, well marked and not too much incline. We went out in the afternoon and returned near sunset. Spent around 30 min at the falls with our feet in the water and taking pictures. Great day!

hiking
14 days ago

Outstanding in every way. The valley and lake were beautiful, wildflowers were still out, challenging enough of a hike, and the falls were so refreshing and relaxing after a long hike. The drive isn't for the faint of heart, and I would consider myself slightly in that bucket, but if you take it slow like I did, it's a fun and beautiful drive. I saw a guy make the drive in a VW GTI, which I definitely wouldn't advise. 4WD or AWD will make you feel more confident but you can do FWD and get by just fine. Good food and drinks at the ranch. Best hike during our time in Vail, for sure.

hiking
16 days ago

All around beautiful hike. Wildflowers were in bloom, small creeks, and amazing scenery. Easy hike really no incline expect in just a few places. The dirt access road is not bad, made it perfectly fine in my sedan.

hiking
18 days ago

Fabulous hike! Beautiful vistas from the valley floor, wildflowers, aspen, conifer forests, and a waterfall. My Garmin had us at about 6.5 miles back and forth, but we scampered around the boulders a lot at the waterfall. The access rode is rough but passable. Highly recommended.

hiking
23 days ago

Probably one of the prettiest excursions I've had all summer! Drive up the dirt road (a little over 10mi) was a bit more time consuming than I anticipated, but absolutely stunning and very well maintained. (I recommend taking a car with AWD/4WD and some clearance, as there were still quite a few potholes.)
The hike was quite mellow; I lost trail ~2.3 miles in and ended up hiking quite steeply up above treeline; though I didn't see the falls, the meadow I ended up in was gorgeous, with plenty of wildflowers in full bloom!
The trail itself was very well maintained, though there were quite a few social trails - be sure to practice good LNT ethics and travel only on established trails!!! Wildflowers, butterflies and other critters were abundant, and the mountains looming in the distance as I hiked in from the trailhead were unbelievable.
I completed 6+ miles in my Chacos and didn't have an issue (other than some muddy feet), but well-soled shoes are a must!

hiking
25 days ago

Gorgeous wildflowers and views all along the way, large portions of aspen groves and lots of shady areas and creeks so the dogs loved it too! Definitely hike up to the falls! About 6 mi round trip with some elevation gain but nothing overwhelming. Would recommend hiking boots over tennis shoes.

hiking
27 days ago

Walking through the verdant valley, with wildflowers and the aspens towering was incredible, Multiple environments like meadows, swampy areas, rock faces, groves of aspens, and ultimately, the rocky waterfall made the ups & downs in the second half worth it, although the flies were a bit extreme (don’t stop for more than 30 seconds once you’ve hit halfway, or they start biting!). The falls are beautiful, yet very busy. Are drones going to become the Colorado State Bird?

Pro tip: do not attempt the drive to the trailhead in anything less than an SUV, else your suspension and undercarriage are going to be pushed to their limits. Very, very rocky road for 11 miles from highway to trailhead.

1 month ago

Easy hike with beautiful water fall at the end! Took us 2 hours total in chacos, but we wish we were in our hiking boots.

hiking
1 month ago

This hike is worth the very bumpy ride on a gravel road. Walk to the trail head which is by the lake, you will see a brown directional sign from the parking lot. This is a stunning hike, with the lake, wildflowers galore, meadows and forest. You will feel enveloped by the wildflowers at times. The trail disappears into the landscape. You will arrive at the top of the waterfall which is a nice flowing creek and feels great if you soak your feet. We did not hike to the bottom of the falls but saw others doing so. If you have bad knees or hips, you might want to take walking sticks. They help a lot on the rocky portions of the trail, there are quite a few. Stop and smell the roses, don’t rush through this hike.

hiking
1 month ago

Awesome views. Hiked it with Family and we all enjoyed it. Please take time for photos. When you get to the falls, make sure you climb down below to get great pics. Also, please take to time to submerge yourself in one of the pools at the top to get the full experience. Enjoy the ride to the Lodge, long dirt, kinda bumpy ride. It’s 12 miles out of Vail but will take 45 minutes to drive to the Piney Lodge to get started. The Lodge has a restaurant if you want to make a complete day out of it.

hiking
1 month ago

We parked at the Piney Lake Lodge and walked down the driveway to the trail. The drive is is approximately 11 miles of fairly smooth gravel road. The hike out to the falls was spectacularly beautiful. The mountains are simply incredible and it’s hard to beat this view. If there’s any one thing I could say, maybe do this trail during the weekdays. Very busy. You’ll hike through Aspen groves, over streams and much more vertical than is stated here. If you are a Fitbit afficianado, we got 21,000 steps. When you finally reach the falls, you might want to climb below for the best view. Totally worth the hike. It’s really beautiful.

1 month ago

Long hike today thru the mountains, from Piney Lake to the falls!!
#instafun #instapic #instagram #instalike #instagood #instagramers #parents #parenting #parenthood #kids #fatherdaughter #love #havingfun #lifeisgood #lifeisbeautiful #life #family #familyfirst #familypictures #familytime #familyfun #adventure #hiking #trekkingwithkids #mountain #mountainhiking #colorado #pineyfallstrail

2 months ago

Hey

2 months ago

R I f

2 months ago

Beautiful trail. Breathtaking views at the lake near the start. The parking lot closest to the trial head is closed until 6/21/18 so we had to hike the 4 miles in from the lot at Lost Lake, but even with that extra mileage it was worth it.

9 months ago

We mistakenly took the trail head and lower Piney lake and then Meadow Creek Road. Still pretty but the 9-mile dirt road made me like it less than others.

10 months ago

Long and bumpy dirt road to get to the lake. But worth it! The lake itself is gorgeous, but the trails around it were just decent in my opinion. The real prize is the lake, which you don’t even have to hike to get to, it’s right where you park.

hiking
10 months ago

The views from the whole trail are stunning. When I imagine Colorado this is what comes to mind. Wildlife is everywhere. We saw a bald eagle and a moose. This was a great trail!

hiking
10 months ago

It is absolutely worth the looooong drive down the dirt road. The view of the lake when you get to the ranch is stunning. The hike itself is relatively easy. There's only a short bit of climbing. Really beautiful with the golden aspens this weekend. We also saw a moose on the drive in!

hiking
10 months ago

Loved this hike so much we've done it twice in two weeks and 1/2 way with our 5 year old. Love love love

hiking
11 months ago

100% worth the drive - we did it in a rental Ford Fusion, so you can do it in anything. Piney River Ranch at the trailhead is super hospitable, and the trail is gorgeous. I'd rate it as easy though, other than the fact that it's a little long out and back.

hiking
11 months ago

Lovely hike! The trailhead can be difficult to find for a first-timer to the area. Be prepared for a long bumpy ride. I wouldn't drive it in a two wheel drive car. At first, we stopped at the lower Piney trail. Don't stop there. Go all the way to the lake at Piney River Ranch. When we left around 12:30, the parking was pretty full so go early. The trail is 3 miles to the falls which are pretty, but not super impressive as falls go. The first two miles are easy and then it gets hilly and rocky. Anyone in relatively good shape can do it. The views and aspen trees are gorgeous. Saw 4 moose before reaching the trailhead on the road. In a Jeep, the drive is half the fun.

hiking
11 months ago

This is a beautiful hike! I wouldn't necessarily classify it as moderate, there were sections that were more challenging but overall pretty easy. Important note...this hike is 3 miles in to the Falls, you have to hike another 4 beyond that to get to Upper Piney Lake. We had a family member with us from TX and the altitude was getting to her so we didn't go beyond the falls. Truly so many beautiful photo ops and the leaves are changing already! Be ready for an EXTREMELY bumpy, slow ride in and zero cell service!! The 12 miles in took 45 min. Enjoy!

hiking
11 months ago

one of the best hikes i have been on. Piney Lake is gorgeous with spectacular views of surrounding mountains and rivers. We camped nearby on the Red White and Blue trail and we had a great night of camping.

hiking
Sunday, August 13, 2017

Great views!!

hiking
Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Incredible views. It started with a little rain but this quickly passed. The continuous views of the green valley with the view of Mt. Powell in the background was stunning. The trail was moderately trafficked. Reaching the Falls themselves was not as incredible as I imagined but the journey there is what makes this hike worth it. Photos to come

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Beautiful trail, especially in the fall through groves of aspen trees. Lake is surrounded by part of Gore range. That alone is worth the drive. View near the top looking back to the lake is well worth the hike.

Load More