On our recent trip to the Rocky Mountains, my family and I stayed in Vail, Colorado, an old vacation spot I hadn’t visited since I was 12 years old. It was the first time I had seen the area without a thick coat of snow all around. We used to visit each February to ski, but when I started getting older and our lives got busier, we never found the time to return. Until now.
I’ll admit that although the rules and regulations of the Coronavirus pandemic have been a pain, I am thankful because it was during this time that I discovered my love of the outdoors and had time to safely explore new places. Because of my new interest in hiking, we decided to take a trip back to an old favorite, but this time we wouldn’t be skiing; we’d be exploring.
We filled our week with different exciting activities, filling in the gaps with hikes along the best rated trails in the area. Here you’ll find the trails that stuck out to me the most. If you don’t have a lot of time to hike during your stay, make these two your priority.
1. Booth Falls Trail
- Trailhead: 3099-3061 Booth Falls Rd, Vail, CO 81657
- Length: 4.2 mi
- Elevation: 1358 ft
- Difficulty: Moderate
Although the trailhead is very close to the main roads running through the mountains, this trail takes you deep into the heart of the Rockies, leaving you to hear only the sweet sound of nature’s silence.
The trail’s claim to fame is the sparkling waterfall waiting for you at the end (or the lake if you choose to hike farther), but the real spectacle is the grand views of the surrounding mountains. Walking through a valley, towering peaks surround you in wonder.
The trek to the falls is only about two miles, but if your family is anything like ours, it may take two hours and hundreds of pictures to reach the top.
The waterfall itself is truly beautiful and a great place to sit, observe, and eat a snack. Since the trail has incredible views throughout, be sure to take time every now and then to stop and soak it all in.
If you want to read more about how the mountains taught me to fully observe beauty, check out my post Reaching the Summit: What to Know Before Hiking at Altitude.
Booth Falls Trail reveals the hidden marvels within the mountains, and it will definitely be worth your time.
2. Shrine Ridge Trail
- Trailhead: Summit Re-1 School District, Colorado
- Length: 4.3 mi
- Elevation: 1030 ft
- Difficulty: Moderate
This trail begins in a much more secluded area. After about 10 minutes of a very bumpy ride on a dirt road, you’ll see the trailhead in a field of grass.
The beginning of the trail is landscaped and trimmed, somewhat flat at first, then gradually steepening for the ascent. From here, you will begin to see gorgeous views of distant mountains. But you will quickly learn that these are nothing compared to what is to come.
One unique attribute of this trail is the plethora of wildflowers surrounding it. Limitless patches of flowers follow your feet along the dirt path, creating a colorful picture with the mountain tops in the distance.
Finally, after a trek through the soaring evergreens, you will arrive at the peak to see one of the most extraordinary sights I have ever laid my eyes on. It is impossible to describe the beauty of miles and miles of mountains all around you. In front of this majesty, I could only sit and become entranced.
Although this summit is unparalleled, most people continue up the side of the mountain to see the legendary shrine, a giant rock formation. There, you will find a perfectly placed outcropping to see the shrine and the distant peaks (and get that perfect pic for the gram).
It was here that I fully surrendered to the mountains. That I fell in love with their grandeur. Once you reach the summit on this trail, I promise you’ll never want to leave.
Seeing the mountains with fresh eyes gave me a whole new appreciation for the outdoors. Who knew how glorious it can be to see endless peaks in every direction? Or how awe-inspiring it is to sit at the base of a mountain and look at its enormity?
If you want to really immerse yourself in the outdoors and see what all those nature lovers are talking about, do yourself a favor and visit Vail, Colorado. Then make your way to the summits. It’ll be an experience you’ll never forget.