Consistently ranked among the top three ski resorts in North America by ski and travel magazines, Vail has been a go-to destination for skiers since its founding nearly 50 years ago. With its consistent snow fall, wide-range of beginner and intermediate trails on the front-side, and legendary, expert back bowls on the back, Vail offers something for every skier from the beginning toddler to expert parents.
Yet, Vail continues to re-invent itself as a hub of general outdoor living and active lifestyles. Winter sports may be Vail's centerpiece and claim-to-fame, but its hiking, mountain biking and other outdoor activities should make it a stop on anyone's Rocky Mountain itinerary. So, without your skis, what's there to do?
Curving through Vail Village long before joining the Colorado River, the banks of Gore Creek are the perfect place for a morning jog or leisurely walk.
The Gore Valley Trail extends from one end of East Vail all the way through West Vail to Minturn in the spring, summer and fall. During winter, the trail is plowed in sections or hardened into snowpack within Vail, allowing for walking and jogging with a good tread.
Jogging from Lionshead to West Vail is about 4 miles round-trip and the trail is well-marked with directional signs. I threw on a pair of trail running shoes with a grippy sole and GoreTex upper.
After the snow melts, Vail offers a multitude of hikes throughout the Gore Range. One of the most popular hikes is Booth Falls and Booth Lake Trail, which can be reached via the East Vail exit from I-70. The trail snakes through aspens, boasts vast scenery and reaches a waterfall after two miles and more than 1500 feet of elevation gain.
For the more intrepid hikers, continue on another 2 miles and another 1500 feet of climbing to reach Booth Lake. You'll pass through a grove of the Colorado blue spruce and, in the spring and summer, meadows of wildflowers. Bring plenty of water and pack a lunch, but plan up to six hours for a round trip to Booth Lake.
More: Get Fit with Hiking