Explore the most popular horseback riding trails near Vail with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

We love this trail. The dirt road to get there from Vail is not always well maintained but this year in August of 2018, the road was passable with my Impreza sedan. It took us 2 hours to hike to the falls, enjoyed beautiful views from the well-maintained trail. We sat on the rocks by the falls and rested. saw a scampering animal that may have been a marmot?? Some very friendly folks eating their lunch (which they offered to share) near us asked if we'd seen the beaver but it was not likely that. The weather yesterday was absolutely perfect, no need for extra layers or rain coats, which I brought. Took us 1.5 hours to walk out. My daughter wore tennis-type shoes, I wore my hiking boots. Both of us we fine. The elevation gain on this trail is not significant but there are a few easy places where you pick your way across stones and a little trickle of water crossing the trail. Always good to start with a full water bottle to stay hydrated. This trail is a real treat for us, have hiked it several times, always delightful.

It's too late in the season for this trail. Wildflowers are gone, and the falls don't have enough water to be impressive. However, the walking surface is good, and the lake is pretty.
We had no trouble with the rough road in a Malibu. It took 30 minutes at 20-25 mph.
This looks like it would be a nice hike earlier in the season.

hiking
3 days ago

Probably the easiest trail around Vail. Very moderate incline and rewarding, beautiful views. If you're looking for an easy, pretty hike while visiting, I would pick this over Booth Falls! This trail is normally extremely crowded, but I went on a cloudy Friday evening around 5 PM, and there was only 1 other car at the trailhead. Please don't feel the wildlife and no there is no designated picnic area at the bottom.

Is there a picnic area at the bottom for lunch after?

hiking
3 days ago

Was absolutely gorgeous!! The views were amazing after the first 3 miles. Overall it was 12 miles.. Was definitely a hard hike. You could feel the elevation from the first few steps on the trail!!! Was just beautiful, would do again!

hiking
4 days ago

My husband and I arrived from Kansas City on Thursday and hit this trail on Friday. We had Quandary Peak on our Saturday agenda so wanted a scenic but reasonably high altitude hike to help us acclimate. This trail was very enjoyable with some moderately steep sections but lots of mild areas too. So many stunning views along the way. We found a ledge to rest at the top for a snack, and were greeted by a fat little chipmunk that shared our snack straight from my husband’s hand. Such a treat!

hiking
5 days ago

An amazing trail with breathtaking views, especially for those from the flat Midwest. The first 1.5 hours gets you to Booth Falls, which are pretty small this year due to the lack of snow and rain. This is where most of the inexperienced hikers will stop, but beyond that is the true beauty of this trail. Highland meadows with wildfires, marmots chirping everywhere, and oh yeah....a pretty sweet mountain lake at the end. Plan for ~3 hours each way with plenty of water for the elevation change. Also this trail isn’t the most remote after the falls, as I ran into people every few minutes, but it’s also not so overcrowded you can’t escape. If you find yourself in Vail I hope you find time to do this awesome trail!

hiking
7 days ago

It’s not a hard hike but you need to be in shape to tackle it! I started from sandstone and went over to Lionshead Loop street. I then walked back to the condo I was staying in. Lots to look at. Nice patch of raspberries.

hiking
8 days ago

Another note:
Geo Markers (2) located at 39.53518, -106.25963

hiking
8 days ago

First of four hikes we did in the area around Vail and still the best. Beautiful hike with lots of variation and great views. It was also the first hike after spending a week at sea level. Jumping up to 12k ft without acclimating was a challenge. Also, this hike was done on a Monday morning around 0845, and there were about 8-9 cars at the trailhead. By noon, it was a zoo, WAY TOO MANY people on the trail and probably 35-40 cars in the parking lot and along the road. Do it, but do it early.

hiking
8 days ago

Terrific hike. The elevation is challenging but was quite doable for us and our boys, who range from 11 to 17. Took five hours total. 8am start was perfect to miss some of the traffic and get a cool start. Look for the goat at the lake.

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

12 days ago

Up hill all the way plus high altitude does make this trail hard, but the trip to the lake is amazing. We even got to see a goat.

Great hike. Well maintained trail and beautiful flowers and views the entire hike. However this should say HEAVILY trafficked trail. I don't think I have ever hiked any trail with that amount of people on it. Parking lot full and cars parked for 1/4 mile down the road in both directions. Great hike, just expect to be hiking it with a lot of other people.

hiking
12 days ago

Views are absolutely stunning!! Would 10/10 recommend this hike and will have this high on my list to do again in the fall. Definitely get there early. I showed up at 8:15 on a Saturday morning and pretty much had the trail to myself. By 10:30 when I got back to the lot it was nuts!

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
12 days ago

Wow! One of the most beautiful hikes I’ve ever experienced! Lots of wild flowers and birds to enjoy on your trek up. The views from the top were unbelievable and definitely worth the hike. I would recommend getting there early as it got pretty crowded by the time we left. The trail was listed to be 4 miles, though my Fitbit logged 5.2 total.

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
13 days ago

This is an amazing hike. You get a little of everything - meadows, trees, lots of wild flowers in July, and large/unique rock formations all surrounded by wonderful mountain peaks. Shrine Pass Rd is dirt but is in fairly good condition when coming from I70. Not so good if you continue past the trail head. There are lots of people on trail.

hiking
13 days ago

Did this hike with my family and my mom said that it was her favorite hike she has ever done. It is a steep incline but not terrible and the view of the lake at the top is amazing. We hiked up and back in about 4.5 hours and spent about a half an hour at the lake eating lunch. (so total time about 5 hours) This is a great hike and would do it again!

hiking
13 days ago

Nice moderate hike with wildflowers and scenic vistas at the end. The rock formations at the end are unique and worth the extra hiking.

hiking
13 days ago

Thought I got a late start at 7 on a Sunday morning but turns out I was the first one in the parking lot and first one at the top. Tons of white people on the way back down, an easy trail with views and wildflowers.

love this trail - wildflowers, views.

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!

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.

backpacking
17 days ago

Absolutely stunning hike all the way up. The first “half” is quite easy if you’re experienced and in shape. It’s a bit of up and down and some nice flat bits. About a mile in the trail merges with the creek. Take that chance to skip across the boulders and be with the running water. Just under the 4 mile mark you will meet the creek again and visit the grave of two brothers who are buried right next to the trail. From there it’s a little under 2 miles to the lake but it’s rather difficult. Very steep at times but you will be graced occasionally by flat meadows that are abundant with spectacularly vibrant wildflowers. Take your time and take plenty of photos. Once you get to the lake you won’t want to leave. I 110% recommend staying the night to see the sun set and rise. Also there’s a good chance you will see a heard of mountain goats. On the south side of the lake. That’s also where the best camp sites are. If you are sleeping there, hike up and away from the lake on that south side to watch the sun set. Plenty of ridges to climb up and sit. You can see the whole mountain rage and it is something else.

I backpacked this two weekends in a row. First weekend (7/21-22) the mosquitoes and flies were swarming. 4-5 other groups also camped that night. Second trip (7/28-30) I barely saw any but was a little cooler than the week before. There were 3 other camps Saturday night and ZERO others on Sunday night.

This is my favorite hike so far after being here almost a year. I highly recommend this one. Take it slow and enjoy Earth’s beauty. And remember... LEAVE NO TRACE ❤️

hiking
17 days ago

We backpacked in and camped just below the lake (rains came in before we got to the lake, so we set up camp early). Tough but rewarding hike (with 30-40 lbs anyway).
Parking is limited and no overnight at the TH, you will need to park by the school. Vail PD told me its by permit only when school activity is happening, but we were able to park free no permit.

hiking
17 days ago

July 30-th 2018
The night before I saw a dream, that I met a black bear on this trail, so I woke up and couldn't sleep. I arrived to the trail at 6am. There was only 1 car on a parking lot.
I did not see the black bear, but I saw a moose with a calf on a very beginning of a trail and there was a mountain goat on the end, next to the lake. Nobody else was there, just me and a goat. How wonderful !
The trail is exactly 9 mi. according to AllTrails app and it is HARD, one of the hardest ones, that I did so far(I hike a lot)
You will cross creeks at least 5 or 6 times, so don't need to bring tons of water if you can drink from the creek( I do), but for sure bring some snakes
Didn't need GPS or comas, as it would be hard to get lost on this trail even if you want to. Didn't use my mosquitoes spray, didn't see any mosquitoes or bugs.
I was the only one hiking up, but on the way back there were a lot of people ( hundreds of them)
The parking lot was full
The trail is beautiful, the waterfalls are amazing and the lake is awesome.
Now I need a new hiking boots :)

WOW! We were looking for something easy between two more difficult hikes, and this was a seriously gorgeous surprise. This hike has something for everyone. You'll see vast meadows of wildflowers, a healthy forest with little spots to rest along the way. Once you break out of the forest it becomes steeper, but there were many families with kids on the trail who were doing just fine. The adventurer among you will be very tempted by the amazing rock formation at the end, and will have to be convinced to save going into the valley to climb up into it for another day. There are nice spots for a picnic at the top and truly beautiful vistas. You really do feel like you are on top of the world and the rock formations are unlike anything we have seen in Colorado. Parking is easy and plentiful, and you will see many friendly faces along the way.

18 days ago

Difficult but worth it. You get to see a waterfall, alpine meadow, and lake. Agree with rating it as hard (two people in our group turned around at the falls), but I’m not a fast hiker and I managed to do it less than six hours - you get a lot of bang for your buck.

Bonus points because the trailhead is accessible via public transportation.

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