This Top-Rated Path Provides A Particularly Scenic Way To Enjoy The Beauty Of Colorado

The paved, multi-use Vail Pass Recreation Path (or Recpath) traverses a gorgeous section of the Colorado Rockies, passing through serene meadows, pristine evergreen forests, and enchanting aspen groves with incredible views of the Tenmile and Gore Ranges. Tracing a route that was established by the Indigenous Ute people, the trail starts at Copper Mountain and ends at the Gore Creek Campground on Bighorn Road, 6 miles east of Vail, one of the world's most scenic ski towns. The trail's location near Interstate 70 makes it conveniently accessible from the highway, but its accessibility doesn't detract from the amazing wilderness immersion it offers. The path is highly rated on both TrailLink and TripAdvisor, with an average rating of 5 out of 5 from 190 TripAdvisor reviews. 

Whether you prefer hiking, inline skating, or biking, the Vail Pass Recpath promises an unforgettable adventure, but many will tell you that the biking is truly epic here. The trail appeals to just about all kinds of riders, from novice bikers and families out for a leisurely ride to more serious cyclists looking for an intense workout. Whatever your purpose or means of transportation, spending a day on the recpath is an incredible way to experience the Colorado Rockies in all their glory from late spring to early fall, when the area is free from snow. 

The Vail Pass Recpath experience

The entire 18-mile trail is undeniably stunning, with many opportunities for stops to admire the scenic vistas and explore the surrounding area. While on the trail, people can pause for a delightful picnic or a rest next to a mountain lake or river. It's also possible to exit the path at certain points to take care of personal needs: Restrooms are available at both ends of the trail and at the trail's midpoint. Hungry riders, skaters, or trekkers can stopover at the Copper Mountain Resort or other mountain towns for refreshments or a meal, where other activities like chair-lift rides, miniature golf, and go karts are available. Please keep in mind, however, that off-trail cycling is not permitted for reasons of safety and environmental preservation. 

In terms of logistics, users can park their car at either end or at the trail's midpoint (Vail Pass) and either do an out-and-back trip or arrange a car shuttle if a one-way trip is preferred. Cyclists who prefer coasting instead of strenuous pedaling should consider a one-way trip starting at Vail Pass and then travel south toward Copper Mountain, which is mostly downhill. If you're visiting the area from out of town and you don't have a bicycle, you can rent one and arrange a car shuttle through Mountain View Sports starting at the end of May. 

Preparing to do the Vail Pass Recpath

However you choose to do the Vail Pass Recpath — up, down, or sideways — you need to be prepared for exercising at high elevations in mountainous terrain. The elevation of this trail ranges from around 8,000 to more than 10,000 feet above sea level, meaning that if you're not acclimated, you are vulnerable to altitude sickness. To prevent this, try to sleep at high altitude at least one night before your trip, and make hydration and refueling your top priorities before and while doing this trail. 

Especially if you'll be traveling uphill (but even if you're going down), bring plenty of water and high-energy snacks, and if you find yourself feeling queasy or short of breath during the adventure, stop and rest. This is meant to be an escape from the rat race, not a mountainous version of it. Sunscreen, good sunglasses, and protective clothing are also essential, as weather conditions in the high country can be highly unpredictable. When adventuring in mountains in summertime, it's always a good idea to pack rain gear, as storms tend to roll in during the afternoon.