Traveling Ted is a blog that takes readers along on my adventures hiking, canoeing, skiing, and international backpacking. Many blogs focus on one aspect of backpacking, but I tackle both the outdoor adventure side and international exploration as well.

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The number one outdoor adventure for visitors to Vail, Colorado during the summer is hiking. Although my stay centered around the GoPro Mountain Games, I made a point to enjoy at least one hike. I asked at the front desk at the Antler’s Lodge where to find the closest and best hiking trail. They immediately recommended the Berry Picker Trail. This trail goes from the valley to the summit of Vail Mountain.

Hiking Vail Mountain

Looking down on Lionshead while hiking Vail Mountain on the Berry Picker Trail

Hiking Vail Mountain

The Berry Picker Trail basically goes straight up Vail Mountain. There are two spurs beginning in Vail. One starts from the gondola in Lionshead and the other starts closer to the village and they meet about a mile up the mountain. This is perfect because no matter where you are staying in Vail, there is an adjacent trailhead.

Berry Picker Trail

Hiking Vail Mountain through an aspen forest on the Berry Picker Trail

It was a brilliant sunny day when I started. I followed beautiful Gore Creek for a few minutes before crossing the creek at a bridge and catching the trailhead. The trail started up in the swath of open land where the ski trails come down in the winter. I was a little concerned that I would roast in the sun for the whole trip, but the trail darts in and out of the woods the whole way up, so there is plenty of shade to enjoy.

The trail wasted no time in providing magnificent views. The snow capped Gore Range hovered over the village and picturesque Vail became smaller and smaller as the trail progressed up the mountain.

Vail Mountain creek

Mountain creek cascading down the mountain to eventually join Gore Creek

Darting in and out of the woods

Once the trail diverged into the woods it was like a different world. Even though the village was less than a mile away, you felt like you were in the wilderness. The vegetation was a lush green and streams cascaded down the mountain. There were a lot of people hiking the mountain, but there were stretches that sometimes lasted 15-20 minutes where I had the trail to myself. This was on a weekend in one of the busiest times of the year, so I am sure it is even less crowded during the week and on other non festival weekends.

Hiking Vail Mountain

Hiking Vail Mountain on the Berry Picker Trail

Beautiful views of Vail Valley slow you down

My time going up the mountain was slow going. I made bad time because the scenery was spectacular. The views of Vail valley were incredible, and I knew it would only get better as I climbed.

Gore Range Colorado

Hiking Vail Mountain – The Gore Range from the Berry Picker Trail

I did have a GoPro seminar to attend in the Village at 3:30, so I did not have all day to spend hiking Vail Mountain. I considered turning around at one point because I had already seen quite a lot and taken a lot of pictures, but once I start up a mountain, I have to finish. About 2.5 miles up the trail I passed a sign that said the rest of the trail had spots of snow and mud. Again I thought about turning around, but I figured I had only .7 miles to go, so I kept going. Besides, it was pretty cool to see snow in June.

Berry Picker Trail

This sign was no joke

Hiking Vail Mountain

Hiking Vail Mountain – Only .7 miles to go to the top

The trail was extremely well marked at the beginning, but the last half mile was not as clear. At this point though the destination is pretty simple. You just go up until there is no more mountain left. I climbed over a few snow drifts and it did get a little muddy, but soon I could see the buildings at the top of the mountain.

Hiking Vail Mountain

Encountering snow while hiking Vail Mountain near the top

Enjoying the view of Mount Holy Cross from the top of Vail Mountain

The best part about the summit is the view over the other side. I was glad to finally get one of those outstanding Colorado Rocky Mountain views. For three days my views consisted of Gore Creek, the Gore Range, and one side of Vail Mountain. These views rocked, but I longed to get on top and see what was on the other side of Vail Mountain and get a panorama of the surrounding mountains. I was not disappointed.

Vail Mountain summit

Hiking Vail Mountain – Just about at the summit of Vail Mountain

There is an overlook that looks over Mount Holy Cross and the vast wilderness surrounding it. I stood on the platform and was in awe of one of Colorado’s 53 14,000 foot peaks or fourteeners as they call them here. A sensational view greeted me here. I could have spent the rest of the day here, but I was on a time frame.  I needed a beer or two in the hot tub before my next GoPro class, so I turned around and hiked down the mountain. I would love to return and hike Mount Holy Cross someday.

Mount Holy Cross overlook Vail

Approaching the Mount Holy Cross overlook as seen from my GoPro camera

Mount Holy Cross

A close up of the 14,005 high Mount Holy Cross

Mount Holy Cross

Mount Holy Cross and the surrounding wilderness

Mount Holy Cross

A fourteener selfie at Mount Holy Cross after hiking Vail Mountain

What goes up must come down

I turned around and began to descend the mountain. I passed a few tired people hoping to hear good news that the top was just around the corner. I told one lady she had a mile to go and her face dropped. I came around the corner to see her two kids clearly not having fun.

I sailed down the mountain although it did take a toll on my knees. This was no problem as the final destination for my hike was a hot tub overlooking Gore Creek, so I knew that would cure my soreness.

Berry Picker

Soaking my sore knees after hiking up and down the Berry Picker

I enjoyed the variety between hiking in the woods and then the open sections on the ski trail with breathtaking views. This was a nice mixture of experiencing the woods and then when the trail emerged onto the ski runs, you had awesome views of the Gore Range and the village below. Also, the elevation gain was in some ways gradual. At times the trail seemed to go straight up, but then it would level out for a bit and allow you to catch a breath before it began the next stage of the inevitable climb upward.

Vail Mountain

Beautiful views every time you walk out into a clearing

Berry Picker tips

  • To avoid those sore knees, consider hiking up and taking the gondola back down
  • Give yourself 2-3 hours to get up depending on your physical condition and 1.5 – 2 hours back down
  • The hike is short, but strenuous if not in shape
  • There is water available at the top, so you can refill your water bottle there as well as enjoy a beer or glass of wine

The #Vailsummer initiative sponsored my trip to the GoPro Mountain Games. Thoughts on the trail, my photographs, and my sore knees (soon to be soaked in a hot tub) remain my own.

Adventure on!

Traveling Ted’s goal is to inspire outdoor adventure travel and then provide tips. Sign up for email alerts if you like this post. I do not spam and do not share your email address. Other e-follow options include Facebook (click on the like box to the right) or twitter (click on the pretty bird on the rainbow above).

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