Colorado’s Vail Valley includes the towns of Vail, Edwards, Avon, and Eagle, and is located right in the heart of the beautiful Rocky Mountains. While this provides incredibly dramatic views and fantastic forests and rivers to hike along, it can be difficult to find hikes that aren’t straight uphill. Each town is situated in a valley so generally you are starting at the lowest points of elevation for your hikes.
But have no fear! The Inn at Riverwalk in Edwards has put together this list of our favorite easy, low impact hikes that still offer stunning views and immersion in the area's beautiful natural surroundings. Without further ado, here is our list.
Riverwalk Hike and Bike Trail
This is a paved trail with virtually no elevation changes that follows the Eagle River from Avon to Edwards. A great starting place to hop on the trail is right behind the Inn at Riverwalk hotel.
This trail is paved, pet friendly, and features wonderful sounds of running water with several well placed picnic tables. The trail technically goes all the way to Denver, however a good couple mile out and back walk delivers forests, rivers, and an open area through Edward’s Freedom park that boasts views of the surrounding hillsides. This trail connects to a huge playscape, a skate park, and large fields perfect for families.
1.25 miles East of the Inn this trail connects to Miller Ranch Open space which is a flat riverside well maintained dirt trail that goes for an additional 1-2 miles and is discussed in more detail below. Open Valley Views surround this extremely pet friendly and accessible trail.
Parking for this hike is available anywhere in Edward’s Riverwalk, but Inn at Riverwalk hotel guests will have it best as they can walk out anytime they are feeling like getting a little fresh air.
Miller Ranch Open Space
Unpaved, Flat, Pet Friendly, and Immersed in Nature
This is an unpaved extremely flat trail that follows the Eagle River the entire duration of the trail. This trail is great if you are looking for more natural immersion, but want a low impact and well maintained trail.
The trail is pet friendly, and full of natural beauty with excellent views of arrowhead, and the eagle river. It is worth noting that this trail is perfect at all times of the year, in the winter the trail is popular enough that other hikers have packed down the snow and provided a guide for where the trail leads. The best parts of the trail are the views of Beaver Creek’s Arrowhead Resort and a unique bend in the river that is about 1 mile in.
The trail starts here, and weekend parking is available at June Creek elementary school’s lot. Weekday parking is available in a few lots north of June Creek elementary school, however you will need to pay attention to parking signs.
Eagle Vail Trail
An incredibly beautiful trail located in the dense forests of Eagle Vail that starts out very flat then undulates from that point. A little more difficult than the two trails listed above, but the difficulty only begins after ½ of a mile in. If you are looking for a low impact but beautiful walk, heading back at the end of the flat section is a perfect option.
This extremely well manicured trail starts immediately in an old growth Aspen forest. This trail is unbeatable in the fall when you are surrounded by the golden aspen leaves, however it is beautiful and enjoyed by everyone year round. Summers have incredible wild flowers lining all sides of the trail.
This trail has two main branches. After about ½ of a mile you can choose to go uphill all the way until you reach beaver creek or you can go to the right which will undulate you through the beautiful forest of eagle vail. The downhill option is the easiest if you are unaccustomed to the elevation, but both options are gentle and well maintained.
This trail is super pet friendly, and features several peaceful creek crossings on well built bridges. Dogs love to jump into these creeks and drink the crystal clear water. This trail usually has the muddiest and happiest pups seen in the valley.
Parking for this trail is located at the top of Eagle Drive. Parking is first come first serve and you will need to pay attention to the signs, usually plenty of parking, but weekends could require you to park a little further from the trail head then on weekdays.
Gore Creek Trail in Vail
This trail features a ton of natural beauty, and is exceptionally well maintained by the town of vail. As the trail follows Gore Creek, it is extremely flat with wonderful sounds of the creek punctuating the wind moving through the leaves. This trail is pet friendly and accessible year round with a lot of well placed benches for watching the water flow.
This trail is located in the town of Vail and starts just to the left of the main wooden bridge in from of the Vail transportation center. This trail is a wonderful journey into nature and offers glimpses of Vail’s ski hills. The trail leads into Ford Park, which offers incredible views of the Gore Range.
Parking is best in the Vail Transportation Center’s parking garage.
Grouse Creek in Minturn
This trail is the toughest of all five trails listed in this article, as it features a steady incline for most of the trail. The incline is at its sharpest at first, but then levels out more as you enter the forested section of this trail. About ⅛ of a mile in.
The trail intersects and follows Minturn’s Grouse creek, and is relatively non trafficked and features tons of natural beauty. The trail is an out and back, with wonderfully mixed forests and fantastic views for the downhill walk back to parking.
Parking is at a nice gravel lot located just outside the town of Minturn. The town of Minturn makes for a great post trail destination with wonderful restaurants and an old railroad town feel to it.
Notes about Trail Safety
A few local tips about trail safety, always bring lots of water for your hikes. Colorado is very dry, and altitude sickness can be combated by drinking lots of water. Additionally the elevation change always has a dramatic effect on the body so these trails above can help get your body well acclimated without having to sacrifice natural immersion. Lastly it's best to hike in groups or if hiking alone to let someone know of your hiking plans and locations. The staff at the Inn at Riverwalk are perfect people to make your hiking plans known in the event of an emergency.