Birding · Fall Colors · Fishing · Geological Significance · Lake · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife
The north side of the Vail valley is blessed with several steep but rewarding trails leading all they way from the valley to the high alpine. This one is a little longer than it's neighbors, perhaps a little less steep, and just as spectacular. It is less crowded than Booth Creek, and a good option if you want a little more solitude.
Need to Know
Parking is tight (but not as bad as Booth Lake Trail
). Overnight parking is not allowed at the Pitkin trailhead. Backpackers can park for free at the Gore Creek or Red Sandstone parking garage and take the bus to the Pitkin trailhead. The alternative is to pay $35 to park overnight in the Vail parking structure and use the free bus to reach the trailhead.
The first half mile of trail is the steepest - don't get discouraged right off the bat. It starts in a dense aspen grove; a great place to enjoy the colors if you do it in the fall. Over the next couple miles, you'll pass through grassy meadows, stands of lodgepole pine (many are dead from the pine bark beetle epidemic), and get close to the creek a few times.
At about 2.5 miles - halfway to the top - you'll get a good view of Pitkin Falls. Enjoy the view and get ready for several more bench sections that have alternating steep climbs and then beautiful meadows that will be filled with wildflowers in July and August.
Break out of treeline just as you reach Pitkin Lake at 11,360'.
Your return journey will be equally as spectacular, as you'll have views all they way down the narrow drainage that you've ascended, and beyond.
Flora & Fauna
The fishing is reputed to be quite good here.
History & Background
If you look carefully, you'll see the remnants of several glacier moraines that result from the retreat of glaciers that sculpted this valley long ago.
Shared By: Nick Wilder