Explore the most popular waterfall 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.

As someone from Michigan, this hike was a little difficult for me. There were some flatter areas but overall it was an incline. Took me about 3 hours to get up to the lake and 2.5 to get back down. However, it is pretty rough on the knees going down. Make sure to bring plenty of water and snacks/lunch for the lake.

hiking
2 days ago

My wife and I did this yesterday. Nice trail with wildflowers and great scenery. It is a combination of open fields of wildflowers and areas with large shady aspens. There were also some wild raspberries and blueberries (or possibly huckleberries) along the trail of which I munched on here and there. I would recommend hiking shoes as the trail can be rocky in places although I did see many folks in tennis shoes along the trail. There were several steep places where a trekking pole came in handy. I'm 63 and about 220 lbs and I find a single trekking pole helps balance and knees on the steps. My wife and I made it to the falls in 1 and 1/2 hours. I'm from a southern low land area but we've been here about 5 days to get somewhat acclimated to the elevation. While getting a bit winded at times, it wasn't that bad. Would do this again.

hiking
4 days ago

Says Hard but I don't think its hard. Beautiful trial.

I am in Vail for a 9 week post-surgery checkup for my hip. I had a personal goal to do some hiking while in Vail. This trail was steep but had enough shade and flat surfaces that I was able to complete it! The hardest part, for me, is getting used to the elevation. Make sure to pack plenty of water and healthy snacks. I found a walking stick, which was very helpful. We took alot of breaks and completed the trail in and out in 5 1/2 hours. Great scenery and plenty of friendly, encouraging hikers along the way.

Awsome !

Amazing views along the way with lots of wildflowers. There are parts that are steep but manageable. There are plenty of places to rest on the way up that are shaded. Enjoy the gorgeous views of the falls at the top!

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

hiking
8 days ago

Great short hike. Definitely very steep but the ropes make it manageable. It rained heavily this morning, so it was a bit sketchy coming back down. Awesome views of the falls. Fun quick little hike. Definitely recommend stopping here if you're in the area. One of the falls has a large cave like rock overhang that would make a decent spot for a lunch break. I'll be returning.

As far as difficulty, I have very little experience with technical hikes but found this to be fairly easy. The descent is the part where you must exercise the most caution. Take your time!

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

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
11 days ago

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

Stunning views! The trail is well marked and criss-crosses a creek a few times so my pups could cool off. Beautiful flowers line the trail. We hiked to the falls which has dramatic drops, so keep your dogs and kids close!

on Pitkin Lake Trail

hiking
14 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
14 days ago

Fantastic trail and scenery, with a wide variety of plants and other wildlife. This is one of my favorite hikes in the area, however it is also one of the most trafficked.

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.

This is a beautiful trail with a variety of views in July...wildflowers, aspen, rocky areas, and the falls...which are extremely low this year. I would rate it as easy to moderate. There are just a few rocky areas...but most of the trail is dirt. The elevation gain pushes this hike into the moderate range...but it’s spread out over two miles. If you leave early enough, you’ll be in the shade almost the entire time.

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

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.

hiking
18 days ago

Best hike ever

hiking
20 days ago

Nice challenging hike. Being a Midwesterner, the elevation and vert climb was tough in short stretches, but followed by easier sections to keep you from red lining. The falls were nice... but some of the views are blocked by vegetation. There is also a VERY nice public bathroom nearby the school (you’ll find it) in case you need to change or freshen up before heading into Vail Village.

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!

Beautiful hike. Wild flowers amazing right now. Kids had a great time climbing at the falls.

The views are outstanding. Wildflowers are everywhere. I started the hike before 8:00 a.m. and it was a good choice! As I was coming back down there were several groups hiking up. Pack bug spray if you plan to hike later in the morning/day.

hiking
24 days ago

Hiked on 7/14/18. Great trail with amazing views and change of scenery. I’m a 24 year old in shape male and it took me 2 hrs 30 min up and 2 hrs 10 min down. My Garmin watch tracked this trail at exactly 5 miles up and 5 down. Somewhat challenging but definitely worth the reward.

hiking
25 days ago

Tackled this trail after not hiking in the Rockies for over 5 years. The beginning is an intense experience, gaining a lot of elevation quickly. After about 2 miles, it has more level ground but will steadily increase in elevation until you reach the lake at about 6 miles. It was very challenging for someone like myself who moved from sea level in North Carolina a month ago but other, more experienced hikers seemed to be cruising along. The views were worth every moment of short breath! Final note, AllTrails may say this trail is a little over 9 miles but I used a GPS tracker and it tracked me at 11.32 start to finish. Just something to consider. Overall, finished in 6 hours. 7/21/2018

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.

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