Colorado is a popular winter destination but if you love the outdoors you have to experience it in the summer. The days are warm and sunny and you have plenty of adventures to choose from: hiking, mountain biking, road cycling, rafting, trail running, climbing, golfing, horseback riding, fly fishing…each activity with its own spectacular scenic views. Here are some of my favorite activities that we did…
Hiking – Booth Falls/Lake
The catalog of available hiking experiences is incredibly diverse. My ideal criteria is usually: strenuous (to get a bit of a workout), forest / mountain and if I can get one more wish: (a) waterfall. After much research (as there are so many to choose from!), I decided on the Booth Falls / Lake Trail. Honestly, this trail is one of the most beautiful hikes I’ve ever done. I couldn’t take enough pictures to reflect the magnificence and scenery of the landscape. It was just breathtaking! The hike begins with a steady climb through aspen trees. We did our first stop at a small stream to cool off. The water was so cold that I couldn’t stand in it for more than 30seconds, but it was truly refreshing and so clean. At about two miles we reached Booth Falls. This is a scenic 60ft waterfall and you can hike up along the stream. We only briefly stopped here as there were many people and we wanted to continue on to the lake. The hike continues further uphill and through fields of wild flowers and along a creek. The backdrop provides stunning views of the Gore mountain range. We saw many birds, butterflies and even a small (black) snake. The further up the trail, we came through patches of snow and our first encounter with marmots. Marmots are similar to squirrels and live up in the mountains. They emerge through the snow starting in April and will eat all through summer in order to hibernate in the winter. They’re adorable and make a whistling sound to warn from predators. They are so entertaining to watch. The final stretch to the lake was my favorite part. A single track through lush green meadows with butterflies, water flowing and marvelous views on Vail ski resort in the background – I felt as if I was walking through a postcard. We continued hiking over rocky hills…and there it was Booth falls lake. The alpine lake at the top of the mountain (11,500ft) is picturesque and features patches of snow. We settled down for a short picnic and looking for mountain goats (a lady told us she saw them). Unfortunately, they were already gone, but a marmot was joining our picnic (no, we didn’t feed it). On our way back down the weather slowly changed from sunny to overcast and all of a sudden ice pellets started to come down. We didn’t have any jackets or protection so it felt like a true adventure. We started running down the mountain and the further we came, it changed from hail to rain. These thunderstorms happen every day in the summer. After about 30min it was over and we continued our hike down into the sunny valley. It was a full day hike and one of the most enchanting ones I’ve ever done.
Directions: From I-70 take exit 180, East Vail. Park at Booth Falls Road
Distance: about 9 miles roundtrip (about 5 hours up with stops, 2.5 hours down)
Elevation Gain: 3,590ft
Mountain Biking – North Trail
We rented our mountain bikes in Avon and asked for an area with nice cross-country trails. The guy in the shop send us to Eagle – which was a 20mile car ride to get there. He told us to start at Pool/Ice Rink Trail. We found the parking lot, but didn’t find the right trail start. It was also not what we had in mind as it was mostly high desert nature (HOT and no shade) and all downhill. We quickly turned around and drove back to Vail where I found a cross country trail on MTB Project App (love this app – also for trail running & hiking!). The trail we decided on was North Trail – single track and starting off with a good climb. When we arrived at the top we had one of the best views on Vail Valley. The descent goes through beautiful aspen forests. Halfway on our descent we came across a herd of sheep – in the middle of the forest. They came out of bushes and trees all around us. All of a sudden, a big white dog came toward us on the trail to check us out. I love dogs but I was a bit intimidated by this one as I know he had a job to do. Once I talked to him he started wagging his tail and let us pass. It was a beautiful trail – and just what we had imagined.
Description: Single Track, about 6 miles (from parking lot), 875ft ascent, medium difficulty
Trail Running – Beaver Creek Lake / Turquoise Lake
If you’re up for a bit of a running challenge take on Five Senses Trail to Beaver Creek Lake to Turquoise Lake. Honestly, I don’t know how Ulli could run this entire trail, as it was real steep hike most of the time. You basically climb up almost 3000ft for 7 miles in thin mountain air. The scenery however is a dream: after you get to Beaver Creek lake you follow a stream through dense forest. The trail is mostly in the trees and you have to cross the stream over wood logs or rocks which is a lot of fun. We started around 7am so didn’t encounter any people on the way up – it’s worth getting up early. It took us about 4 ½ hours roundtrip.
Hotel: The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa At Beaver Creek Mountain
The hotel is located in beautiful Beaver Creek – about 15 minutes from Vail – with direct access to many nature activities. It’s also in walking distance to many restaurants, stores and sports equipment rentals (summer or winter) in Avon. The guest rooms are spacious and luxurious. My favorite part about this hotel (besides the stunning natural beauty location) is the fitness/pool/spa area. I LOVE THEIR GYM! It has brand new equipment, big windows (I hate gyms in the basement) and large enough to never have to wait for a treadmill to use. I really got into the Pelaton bike – have you tried it? It’s your own personal spinning class – I want one of the bikes at home now. 🙂 They also have a lap pool, hot tubs with mountain view and steam sauna as well. My other favorite part about the hotel in the winter is that they have a ski lift right outside the hotel with valet ski. So you jump off the lift, give your snowboard to the ski valet and walk in the lobby. It’s so convenient. I promise, you’ll love this mountain getaway in the winter or summer alike!
Tip: Dogs are allowed at the hotel!!
P.S. What is it about poached eggs in Vail? Everywhere we went they had a dish with poached eggs – is this a speciality here?
I can’t wait to come back for more Colorado adventures. Can you recommend any hikes / trail runs or mountain bike trips? What is your favorite area in Colorado for outdoor activities?