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Bighorn Creek

 4.6 (5)


10.3 Miles 16.6 Kilometers

3,631' 1,107 m


-3,649' -1,112 m



Avg Grade (8°)


Max Grade (45°)

12,330' 3,758 m


8,681' 2,646 m



All Clear 79 days ago
Dry - Aspens are firing History

Getting forecast...

A beautiful valley, a pleasant trail, good campsites, and few people.

Thomas David Kehoe

Dogs Leashed

Features Fall Colors · River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife


Bighorn Creek is the least popular trail from Vail, possibly because it doesn't have a lake. But it's one of the prettiest valleys and is an easy day hike. With several excellent campsites it's a good choice for backpackers. Likely the only people you'll see are climbers, as Bighorn Creek is the access to Grand Traverse and Solitude Peak. Another adventurous option is Bighorn Pass, which is 500 feet of 50% grade Class 3+ climbing. From the pass you can easily summit the peak to the north.

Need to Know

The trailhead is hard to find. Exit I-70 at East Vail, Exit 180. Drive east of Bighorn Drive 0.75 miles. Turn left on Columbine Drive. Drive under I-70 through a one-lane tunnel. The parking lot has spaces for six cars, and a dozen more cars can park on the street (park on street at own risk...parking tickets may be issued by city of Vail).


From the trailhead, the trail climbs up through aspen forest. At 0.7 miles and 1.3 miles side trails go down to the creek, possible to campsites? At 1.4 miles a campsite is next to the trail and the creek.

At 3.4 miles there is a an old cabin and a campsite.

At 3.8 miles the trail emerges from the forest and ends. The rest of the valley is open country above timberline. An intermittent mountain goat trail can be followed.

Look for a cairn at 4.0 miles. If you're looking to camp, the best campsite is at 4.1 miles, above some large ponds.

The base of Bighorn Pass is at 4.8 miles. Bighorn Pass is reached at 5.1 miles. The pass should only be attempted by experienced hikers, without backpacks.

Flora & Fauna

You may see a herd of mountain goats. A party of climbers said they were the most aggressive mountain goats they'd ever encountered. The mountain goats chased the climbers off Solitude Peak!


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May 25, 2017
Andy Loseman
Up 2, down 2. Cool view 4mi
May 24, 2017
Jacob Samuels

Trail Ratings

  4.6 from 5 votes


in Vail


  4.6 from 5 votes
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Great hike, went past the private cabin which is being rebuilt by a young couple who's family owns the property. They are inviting public to help with the cabin on Sundays...would be a nice gesture since they allow access through their property. I went with the 100 Club of the Roaring Fork Valley. We experienced beautiful peaks and a small lake more like pond at the end of the trail. Aug 1, 2017

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