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black Grouse Mountain Loop

  5.0 ( 2 ) Favorite

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27.9 mile 44.9 kilometer point to point


Ascent: 5,936' 1,809 m
Descent: -5,952' -1,814 m
High: 11,975' 3,650 m
Low: 7,663' 2,336 m


Avg Grade: 8% (5°)
Max Grade: 27% (15°)


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Trail shared by Dan Findley

A long, epic loop with lots of elevation.

Dan Findley

Features Fall Colors · Lake · Views · Wildlife


Grouse Creek, Grouse Mountain, Turquoise lakes, Beaver Lake, Royal Elk Trail, Paulie's Plunge....this route has it all!

Need to Know

You can find water on most of the route except on the pass.


A good place to park would be the Meadow Mountain trailhead.

Follow the Meadow Mountain fire road for a mile or two until you get to the switchbacks; follow the singletrack through the middle or stay on the road and take your first left turn once you hit the trees. Take this road down to Grouse Creek and take a right to follow the West Grouse Creek Trail.

You'll follow the creek and climb for 6 miles until you top out at the pass. Along the way ,the trail varies in steepness all while being within sight of the creek. About .5 miles from the pass, the trail dissolves into the grass as you pop out above treeline. Follow the cairns to the ridgeline.

From the ridgeline, decide if you want an even more epic hike and hit the summit of Grouse Mountain to your left. If not, head down the west side of the pass along the now visible trail.

This two mile downhill will become steep at times on a rocky trail.

At the bottom of the descent, you'll come up to a junction. Head up the creek and cross it if you'd like to make the short one mile round trip to Upper Turquoise Lake which is one of the nicest lakes in the area.

From back at the junction, head down the valley. In 3.5 miles, you'll pass Beaver Lake.

A short distance down from Beaver Lake, you'll get to the junction of the Royal Elk Trail. This trail traverses the ski slopes of Grouse Mountain and Birds of Prey. Stay on this trail until you reach Spruce Saddle.

From Spuce Saddle, take the fire road (Cinch) down until you reach the trailhead for Paulie's Plunge.

From the base of Paulie's Plunge, take the road down to the Willow Creek pitch and putt. Go around (or through) the golf course to the Whiskey Creek Alternate trail. Take this up and down the bottom section of the Whiskey Creek Trail.

You'll pass through the tunnel and back on US-6. Take the bike path back to your car. Take a breath, go get a beer, and celebrate your epic loop.


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Aug 20, 2018
David Janssens

Trail Ratings

  5.0 from 2 votes


in Vail


  5.0 from 2 votes
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5,185 Since Apr 17, 2017
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Jen Wang
Denver, CO
Jen Wang   Denver, CO
The Mountain Meadow parking lot had a sign day use only. We decided not to risk parking there. Jul 5, 2018

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