“Alpine meadows lead to Pitkin Lake nestled in the craggy Gore Range.
— Nick Wilder
The north side of the Vail valley is blessed with several steep but rewarding trails leading all they way from the valley to the high alpine. This one is a little longer than it's neighbors, perhaps a little less steep, and just as spectacular. It is less crowded than Booth Creek
, and a good option if you want a little more solitude.
Fall Colors — Lake — River/Creek — Views — Waterfall — Wildflowers
The first half mile of trail is the steepest - don't get discouraged right off the bat. It starts in a dense aspen grove; a great place to enjoy the colors if you do it in the fall. Over the next couple miles, you'll pass through grassy meadows, stands of lodgepole pine (many are dead from the pine bark beetle epidemic), and get close to the creek a few times.
At about 2.5 miles - halfway to the top - you'll get a good view of Pitkin Falls. Enjoy the view and get ready for several more bench sections that have alternating steep climbs and then beautiful meadows that will be filled with wildflowers in July and August.
Break out of treeline just as you reach Pitkin Lake at 11,360'.
Your return journey will be equally as spectacular, as you'll have views all they way down the narrow drainage that you've ascended, and beyond.
The fishing is reputed to be quite good here.
If you look carefully, you'll see the remnants of several glacier moraines that result from the retreat of glaciers that sculpted this valley long ago.