6 Family-Friendly Hikes

The Best Trails for the Littlest Adventurers Throughout the Vail Valley

Hiking has always been one of my favorite ways to soak in the scenery and the beauty of the mountains. When our family of two grew to three, I didn’t want to stop doing the things I loved, like adventuring outside, but I knew I had to adjust my destinations and expectations.

With a little one in tow, our family has adapted our active lifestyle without sacrificing our love of the outdoors. Hiking is one of those happy mediums. I’ve learned to slow my pace, but not my ambitions.

Each year the trails you choose may look different as your little one gains strength and endurance. This gives you the opportunity to continuously explore your surroundings in a new light. There are thousands of miles of trails throughout Colorado, which means there is something to accommodate every age and ability.

When you’re on the trail, make it fun. Explore along the way, and go at your own pace. It’s about the journey, not the destination.

Where to next? Check out these short and easy family-friendly hikes throughout the Vail Valley.

Photo by Whitney Rae Photography

Upper Piney Lake Trail (Vail):

Beginning at Piney River Ranch, the trail starts off with stunning views of the Gore Range set against a high alpine lake. The best photo opportunities and flattest section of trail are found in the first mile following the length of the lake and into a wildflower filled valley. It is 6 miles round trip to Piney River Falls, but the scenery is worth it just for a short stroll until you’re ready to turn around.

Fireweed Trail (Vail Mountain):

Experience expansive views on top of Vail Mountain without the climb by taking either the Eagle Bahn Gondola from Lionshead or Gondola 1 from Vail Village. Upper and Lower Fireweed Trails are easy 1-mile, point-to-point trails that connect the two gondolas. Both routes traverse through open ski runs and dense forests. For a slightly easier hike, start from the Eagle Bahn Gondola and hike gently downhill to Gondola 1. The trails can also be connected as a two-mile loop and hiked in either direction.

5 Senses Trail (Beaver Creek Mountain):

An easy, interpretive trail originating from Beaver Creek Village winds through an aspen grove and follows the creek to the fishing ponds for a 1-mile round trip journey. Interactive signs along the way discuss the sights, smells and sounds in nature, making this hiking trip a fun and educational experience for kids.

Miller Ranch Open Space (Edwards):

The 32-acre parcel is protected through the Eagle Valley Land Trust and offers a flat and quiet 2-mile stroll along the Eagle River. The trail begins as a narrow easement next to the river but soon opens to a larger meadow about a quarter of a mile in. From the main trail, there are off shoots offering small loops and access to fishing spots on the river.

Sylvan Lake (Eagle):

Sylvan Lake State Park, located 15 miles outside of Eagle, is a perfect, family-friendly day trip. A flat, 1.5-mile loop circles the lake, meandering through exposed and wooded shoreline. There are plenty of benches to sit and enjoy the view, which is beautiful from every angle. Take a hiking break and pull out a picnic lunch at one of the tables that line the lake or grab a kayak, canoe or stand-up paddle board to take out on the water.

Brown’s Nature Trail (Eagle):

Traversing through lush meadows and pristine forests, the 2-mile loop on the Brown’s Nature Trail is a good option for a short adventure. Originating from the Yeoman Campground outside of Eagle, the mostly flat trail has enough features to keep kids entertained, including log bridges over the river, boardwalks through wet marshes and views of Fool’s Peak at the end of the mountainous valley.