The most popular cascade in Eagle County, Booth Falls, reached a tipping point in visitor numbers early in the pandemic, leading the Town of Vail to close trailhead parking last summer and again this season. The falls are popular for good reason—beauty and accessibility—but town and Forest Service officials, not to mention local residents, are worried the trail is being loved to death, with rampant human and dog waste littering the wilderness. You can still visit, but you should ride your bike (there are racks and a bathroom at the trailhead) or leave your car at one of the parking structures in Vail Village or Lionshead and catch a free town shuttle bus (hikevail.net) with frequent service to and from Booth Falls and other popular local trailheads. Better yet, check out one of the valley’s other gorgeous waterfalls, including Piney Falls, 2.9 miles upvalley from Piney River Ranch north of Vail, or Lower Pitkin Falls, 2.75 miles up Pitkin Creek starting in East Vail.
The more ambitious can rent e-bikes at Vail Bike Tech in Lionshead (vail
biketech.com) or Venture Sports in Vail Village, Bachelor Gulch, and Avon (avonventuresports.com), then cruise the Eagle Valley Trail, a paved recpath that, when completed, will stretch from the top of Vail Pass to the mouth of Glenwood Canyon, skirting Gore Creek and the Eagle and Colorado Rivers. Vail Valley Anglers also offers a half-day guided e-bike and fish trip ($700 for three guests, vailvalleyanglers.com) featuring customized e-bikes that zip anglers from honey hole to honey hole on the Eagle between Edwards and Vail.
The Vail Valley is blessed with shimmering alpine lakes, but some are easier to reach than others. One of the most popular half-day options is Beaver Lake, 3.3 miles up a creekside trail from Beaver Creek Village. You can ride your bike 2.8 of those miles, to a wilderness boundary, or hike a wide tread that never quite gets too steep for comfort. Along the way you pass the World Cup ski races finish stadium and ample creekside picnic spots. Once at the 9,746-foot-high lake, take a seat on the sandy beach and soak in the sun as 10-inch rainbow trout ogle you from beneath the surface. For a more secluded experience, start at Halfmoon Trailhead south of Minturn and hike four miles to Lake Constantine, an egg-shaped marvel set at 11,371 feet in the Holy Cross Wilderness. And if you really want to get away, park in one of the village structures early in the morning and catch a free Town of Vail hiker shuttle bus (hikevail.net) to the Main Gore/Bighorn stop in East Vail and walk a third of a mile up Bighorn Road to the trailhead for Deluge Lake, a stunning 9-mile out-and-back jaunt that includes 3,400 feet of climbing.
Any hardy hiker appreciates a hearty lunch in the wild, but sometimes it’s worth letting someone else prepare it so you can focus on the adventure. Options abound for preordered picnic meals, but we recommend the gourmet sandwiches and treats from these tried-and-true stalwarts: Delizioso Vail (deliziosovail.com) in Vail, Foods of Vail (foodsofvail.com) in Avon, and Hovey & Harrison (hoveyandharrison.com) or the Drunken Goat (drunkengoatco.com) in Edwards.