In honor of the lovely ladies hiking group staying with us this week, we thought we would share some of our favorite area hikes.  We have a lot of hikers on our staff (some are even volunteer search & rescue members) who love to get out and explore the backcountry.  Among all of us, we've probably hiked almost every trail in the area and then some (we do go off trail occasionally). 

Here is a list of our favorites - on trail, of course - in no particular order:

1.  Booth Falls/ Lake (East Vail): Amy considers Booth Lake to be the best lake in the Vail Valley and she's hiked to most of them.  Length to the lake is 4.1 miles and rated more difficult, but you can also opt for shorter hike to Booth Falls (rated moderate) just 2 miles up the trail. 
2.  Lake Constantine (Minturn): Takes a little while to get to the trailhead (8 mile drive up Forest Service road #707/ Tigiwon Road in Minturn), but the hike is beautiful and a short 3+ miles to the lake.  Great spot to camp if you are backpacking!
3.  Davos Trail (West Vail): Another Amy favorite and part of the North Trail System in Vail.  Amy likes it for the views of Vail, the wildlife (she always sees at least one deer) and because it is her dog, Lily's, favorite trail!  
4.  Shrine Ridge (Vail Pass):  This is a great hike mid-summer during wildflower season when the meadows are awash with color.  Temps are cooler up high (starts around 11,000 ft) and in a short 2.1 miles you have 360 degree views including Copper Mountain, Mt of the Holy Cross, the Gore Range and Vail's back bowls.
5.  Gore Creek/ Lake Trail (East Vail):  The beauty of this trail is that you can go for as short or long as you like (5.5 miles to Gore Lake) and there is pretty scenery the entire way.  You'll spend most of the hike listening to the sounds of Gore Creek as you walk beside it and there is lots of shade to keep you cooler.
6.  Notch Mountain Trail (Minturn):  This is a longer, more difficult hike (5.1 miles to the Notch Mountain Shelter), but delivers gorgeous high alpine scenery (I remember "Rocky Mountain High" playing in my head) and one of the best views you'll find of the famous 14er - Mount of the Holy Cross.  It is an 8 mile drive up Tigiwon Road to the trailhead so plan to get an early start for this one.  Feeling adventurous?  You can also do a side hike of Notch Mountain (13,237 ft) from the shelter
7.  Grouse Lake Trail (Minturn):  No need to drive up Tigiwon Road for this one - the Grouse Lake trailhead is located just before the town of Minturn.  When I first moved to the valley it was by far my favorite hike and still holds a special place in my heart.  It is 4.6 miles to the lake which, in my opinion, is one of the prettiest lakes in the valley.

There are so many more beautiful hikes in the area, but we have to end our list somewhere, and some we'd just rather keep to ourselves.  Get to know us well enough and we might share some of our secret spots.  Might.  Happy hiking everyone!