Explore the most popular lake 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.

hiking
1 day 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!

on Lost Lake Trail

hiking
2 days ago

A little rocky in places, but an easy hike as advertised. Some nice scenery on the way up and a beautiful lake at the end. Pretty much had the trail to ourselves, which was a treat.

hiking
4 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.

Excellent hike! It took us 2:.5 hours to reach the lake at a good pace....and then a nice dip in the lake!!

backpacking
6 days ago

Just did this trail w my 10 & 14 year old and dog. Fairly steep but 3/4 way it levels out more. Boys did great. Footing generally stable throughout hike. 4.5 hours up and 3 hrs down w our backpacks.

Perfect lake hike. Wow what an accidental find!

I go hiking a TON and absolutely love it. This trail... it was harder for me to complete this than a 14er lol. I read all the reviews before and thought, “how hard could those first 2miles really be”. Oh ya. My dog and I are pretty beat. It’s very pretty at the top, yes, but I wouldn’t recommend to anyone

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

hiking
7 days ago

This hike is okay, the second you step on the trail you head directly vertical. the trail literally goes straight up the mountain. It's incredibly steep and if you aren't in shape then forget it. The trail is also very rocky so you don't get much chance to enjoy the scenery, your eyes are glued to the ground so you don't faceplant. I only did the first mile then turned around, it wasn't enjoyable.

8 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.

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/

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
9 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
9 days ago

Beautiful! Not many people for a Saturday in Vail. Caught the end of wildflower season.

hiking
11 days ago

We started the hike at 10 a.m. and finished in 5 hours, with a 30-minute lunch break at the lake. The first 2 miles are quite literally STRAIGHT uphill. If you're not used to strenuous inclines consider a different hike. And the decent downhill is just as difficult! It's incredibly steep so again, not a hike if your legs aren't prepared. The last quarter mile to the lake is just as steep as the first two miles. All in all this hike is a blast! Gorgeous and challenging.

on Pitkin Lake Trail

hiking
11 days ago

The trail is definitely steep but nothing too challenging. We completed the trail with our four year old doing it on his own. Got to the lake in five hours, all trails clocked it as 5.6 miles one way. Beautiful views, tons of wild flowers!

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
11 days ago

We were on a time crunch so only hiked first couple of miles, very nice, through a forest. Explored other trails near Deluge as well. Very nice hiking area. Only saw a couple other people on the trail - surprised at that since we were there July 2018, peak summer season! Lovely stream right by the trailhead, nice photo op.

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
13 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
13 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
13 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 :)

14 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.

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
15 days ago

Awesome hike! Pretty challenging, honestly, especially the beginning and end pitches. It mellows out quite a bit in the middle with a couple of quick pitches in between. I used the Map My Run app and logged 5.42 miles one way and it took me just under 5 hours round trip. Gorgeous scenery, lots of wildflowers, and tons of water crossings (easy). There are a few places where the trail splits but it’s pretty obvious which way to go as most of the wrong ways are blocked with sticks. I only came to one that wasn’t blocked around mile 4. I stayed right and that appeared to be correct pretty quickly after I passed a couple of other hikers coming down. This is not a hike for the faint of heart, but it’s definitely worth the push to get to the lake. If you’ve got weak knees, you’d probably benefit by hiking with poles. Bring lots of water and snacks and check the forecast for rain. Completed 7/28/18
Side note: Do NOT try to park in the grassy area to the back left as you pull in. Dude that lives nearby is a total ass hat - Save yourself the interaction with him.

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.

rock climbing
16 days ago

It was awesome trail! It took me about six hours. Roughly 2 hours to get to the lake and that I decided to hike to the summit of the tallest mountain. Altogether it was an amazing hike worth the difficulty. What an amazing feeling and challenge! I would do it again in a heartbeat! Such awesome views!

hiking
16 days ago

Map showed 3.6 mi trail to the lake, but it was WAY farther than that. My tracker said 4.4 mi when I must have been almost a mile from the lake. Not particularly difficult, but it is strenuous. The trail is well worn, easy to follow. While the slope it climbs is steep, the trail makes enough switchbacks and traverses that it isn't especially steep. The lower part of the trail meanders through aspens and would make a nice Fall foliage hike. The middle third in the fir/pine forest was loaded with wildflowers. Upper third is the open wild-flower filled meadows leading to the lake, but there's still plenty of vertical. Take time to wander around the lake and through all the hummocky terrain above it. Fabulous views. If you still have energy, you can scramble up to the ridge above and look into Snow Lake. (I didn't). Only real downer is the highway noise for the first couple miles up, last couple miles down. (Met a father and teen daughter on the way down who had made a loop up Gore Creek, off trail to Snow Lake, over the pass, and at Deluge Lake picked up the trail down. Now that's a hike!) Rating takes road noise into account.

Very steep but great views. Backpacked in and camped just below the lake.

Lots of work for me, thought I would not make it a few times. 4.5 slow hours up. Incredible. Worth the effort! 3.5 hours down. I should have packed lighter. I got to see a heard of Mountain goats!

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