Things To Do: Booth Falls

Imagine a perfect summer day in the Vail Valley. What are you doing? Chances are, you want to feel (a little) productive, soak up the sun, and eat some amazing food. There are so many activities available, so much food to try, so many places to visit, that you have a hard time choosing. If that sounds about right, we’ve got a plan for you. Read on about one of our favorite Vail Valley hiking trails: Booth Falls

The Timeline

7am Don’t hit snooze! Greet the day with Lavazza coffee from the lobby and get ready. Dress in layers, since the weather in Vail is cool in the morning and warms up as soon as the sun rises high in the sky. Sturdy sneakers, preferably hiking boots with ankle support and a camelback with water are essential. Pack your camera and sunglasses, too. Parts of the trail are wide open with lots of sun exposure.

8am Belmont Deli: We can’t send you on a hike without a proper breakfast. It’s best to get to the trailhead early since parking is limited, so we will send you for a quicker breakfast option. Belmont Deli references its horserace namesake by calling all its sandwiches after race horses and serving New York style eats. If you really want to fuel up,  the Assault comes with pork roll, ham AND bacon, plus cheddar and egg. That might be too heavy for a pre-hike snack, so the Coastal is a lighter option with egg, spinach, tomatoes and feta cheese. You can order at the counter, then sit while you eat or hop in the car and eat on the way.

8:45am The Hike: This popular hike is moderately strenuous with some steep uphill portions and rocky paths. There are also sweeping views, open meadows, river crossings, and aspen glades. Booth Creek Trail gives you a little bit of everything.

If you look at the USDA quick sheet  for this hike, you will notice it looks much longer and much more difficult than we are going to tell you. You do have the option to hike past Booth Falls and up to Booth Lake, which is stunning. That being said, the lake hike will take the better portion of your day. We suggest hiking to Booth Falls and doing an about face in the direction of downtown Vail with the intention of eating your way through the streets.

The distance from the trailhead to Booth Falls is about 2.5 miles, giving you a nice 5-mile hike round trip. Elevation gain is about 1,500 feet. The nice feature about this trail is the grade is mixed. You start with a steeper climb, mellow out into meadows and forest and end with a steep climb. You’re getting close to the waterfall after you walk through two significant meadows separated by an aspen glade, then start the last ascent to (seemingly) nowhere.

Power through that last climb and you will find yourself atop a 60-foot waterfall. Peer over the edge to see a rushing river powered by snow melt. The falls are most impressive in the summer and they start to calm down come August, when there is no more snow melt contributing to the river’s volume.

*tip: Bring kids ages 7+ but keep them back from the edge once you reach Booth Falls. There are no fences or guard rails, just a long drop to the river. Keep following the trail to find multiple view points which are less precarious than the initial overlook.

Snap some pictures, listen to the rush of the river, and prepare to turn back. You will follow the same trail to return to the parking area.   

Parking can be a bit tricky since the lot only has room for a handful of cars. If you can’t snag a spot, park on Frontage Road in the shoulder. This is completely legal and you can use the walk up to the trailhead as a warm up.

*tip: Booth Falls is open year-round, but the slope of the trail allows snow to stick around longer than most hikers expect. It is best hiked June-October. Bring trekking poles if you plan to hike outside that time period.

Dogs are allowed both here and at the Farmer’s Market. Woof!

1pm-3:30pm By now, you have worked up an appetite. Head to Vail and park in the Vail Village parking garage, which is free during the day throughout the summer and fall. As you walk down Meadow road, you will find an abundance of handmade crafts, fresh produce, stalls from local restaurants and even a Jazz band. The Vail Farmer’s Market and Art Show is open Sundays only, June 17-October 7 from 10am to 3:30pm. Stay tuned for our full guide to the Vail Farmer’s Market and Art Show, coming soon.

*tip: Vail presents a variety of free concerts and events throughout the summer. Check the Calendar of Events for fun activities before you head back to The Inn at Riverwalk. Or, come back to the hotel and soak in the hot tub!

A Helpful USDA Quick Sheet

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Photos courtesy of Rachel Radwanski