Helpful Hiking Information | Hiking in Vail, CO

Know Before You Go

Be prepared before you head out to hike

Hiking in the mountains can be a strenuous and potentially dangerous activity, but with some planning, can be a wonderful experience the entire family can enjoy. You can help us protect the special places surrounding the Town of Vail by making sure you are prepared for your adventure!

The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics encourages all those recreating in the outdoors to follow 7 Principles in order to ensure that these places will remain in great condition now and into the future. The 7 Principles are:


  • Plan Ahead and Prepare
    Know the regulations and rules for the area you are visiting. These are often, but not always, posted at the trailhead. Information can be found by contacting the Eagle-Holy Cross Ranger District at 970-827-5715.
  • Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
    Stay on the trail and walk single-file in order to keep singletrack single. Use pre-established campsites that are at least 100 feet from water and trails.
  • Dispose of Waste Properly
    Pack out all trash and waste, including dog waste. Dispose of human waste at least 200 feet from water in a hole six to eight inches deep. You’ll need a shovel or trowel for this.
  • Leave What You Find
    Leave rocks and plants as you found them for others to enjoy. Do not touch or disturb cultural or historic artifacts or structures.
  • Minimize Campfire Impacts
    Campfires are prohibited within ¼ mile of lakes and above 11,000 feet in the Eagles Nest Wilderness. Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings and do not burn any trash.
  • Respect Wildlife
    Observe wildlife from a distance and do not follow or approach them. Never feed animals as it can alter their behavior and expose them to predators and other dangers.
  • Be Considerate of Other Visitors
    Avoid yelling or talking too loudly while on trail. Many people use these trails to get away from the busyness of developed areas. Respect others and the quality of their experience.




What To Bring

Items you will want to bring on your hike:

  • Water
  • Backpack
  • Rain Protection (waterproof jacket/pants)
  • Sturdy, Waterproof Shoes or Hiking Boots
  • Sunscreen - 30 SPF minimum
  • Food/Snacks
  • First Aid Kit
  • Camera
  • Cell Phone
  • Compass/Map/GPS
  • Hat/Ball cap
  • Sunglasses
  • Flashlight/Headlamp
  • Extra Clothing (e.g., shirt, socks)

Dogs & Leashes

On all trails that enter the Eagles Nest Wilderness, as well as on the North Trail, DOGS ARE REQUIRED TO BE ON A PHYSICAL LEASH.  There are four main reasons for this:

Many wildlife such as moose, coyote, mountain lion, and elk, see your dog as a threat and may attack your dog to protect their young or themselves.
Remember that you are visiting wildlife’s home while on your hike. Many of these species are very sensitive and, given the short summers and heavy traffic in our area, are often doing all they can to survive. Being chased, or even feeling threatened, by a dog can have long-lasting negative effects on our wildlife populations.
Keeping your dog on a leash will minimize the likelihood of a negative encounter with another dog.
Not all trail users are fond of dogs, even the nice ones! Keeping your dog on a leash will ensure that other users do not feel threatened or anxious about encountering your dog

If you would like to hike with your dog off leash, there are several areas you can go, such as any trail, aside from the North Trail, that does not enter the Eagles Nest Wilderness, as well as dog parks within the Town of Vail. Remember that, no matter where you are, when in public, your dog needs to be under verbal control. Also, if you use a provided dog waste bag, please remember to carry it out with you. The bags are not biodegradable.



Eagles Nest Wilderness

Several trails around the Town of Vail enter the Eagles Nest Wilderness, which was designated by Congress in 1976 as part of the National Wilderness Preservation System. The Eagles Nest Wilderness is a special place managed for solitude, physical challenge, naturalness, and a primitive visitor experience.

Remember that you are just a visitor in the wilderness, so treat it with respect. Special regulations apply and are posted at trailheads. For more information about Wilderness, click here. For more information specific to the Eagles Nest Wilderness, click here.