There’s more to Vail than Wi-Fi equipped gondolas and heated sidewalks. these East Vail hiking trails serve up extensive access into the wilds of the Gore Range. 

Get Acquainted: Gore Creek Trail

Meander alongside Gore Creek as it rambles through pine and aspen forests for approximately four miles.Head left at the fork marked by two early pioneers’ graves. Continue for two miles as the trail nears treeline. Finish the ascent at pristine Gore Lake.

Trailhead: From Exit 180 (East Vail), head south before turning east onto Bighorn Road. Follow Bighorn Road until it ends. Trailhead parking will be on your left.

Length: Six miles one-way

Elevation Gain: 2,755 feet

Up Close and Personal: Red Buffalo Pass

Plan to get an early start for this one-way hike that takes trekkers over Red Buffalo and Eccles Passes from East Vail to Frisco. From the Gore Creek Trail, walk four miles before coming to the fork marked by pioneers’ graves, and head right, over the creek, following signs for Red Buffalo Pass. While the beginning of this split offers a more lackadaisical stroll, the trail then steeply climbs past treeline as it nears the top of the pass. Follow cairns into Summit County, and head toward the alpine lakes at the unmarked fork. The smaller summit of Eccles Pass marks the final ascent, before you descend towards the signed Meadow Creek Trail, which ends at the Meadow Creek Trailhead.

Trailhead: Use the Gore Creek trailhead, located in East Vail, but leave a car for shuttling purposes at Meadow Creek Trailhead in Frisco, located alongside I-70.

Length: 13.1 miles.

Elevation Gain: 3,210 feet.

Stay the Night

Gore Creek Campground is conveniently located next to the Gore Creek Trailhead, and it’s an opportune site from which you can base a weekend’s worth of exploration. For those looking for less established accommodations, there are a few primitive sites available beginning at mile four of Gore Creek Trail. Campers should be wary of seasonal fire restrictions.

—Kirsten Dobroth