Distance: Approximately 6.4 miles (round trip)
Duration: Approximately 2 hours 15 minutes up, 1 hour 25 minutes down
Difficulty - Easy
This is a pretty little hike that starts from the parking lot / rest area at the top of Vail Pass. Departing the parking lot, you have two choices.
The first choice (not necessarily the favored) is described in "The New Summit Hiker". This choice has you leave the parking lot along the paved bike path. Follow the bike path, keeping an eye out on the west bound I-70. When you see the large bridge of the Interstate spanning the gulch, it is time to leave the bike path. You can strike the trail, keeping the creek to your left. After crossing the Interstate, no need to follow the "Summit Hiker's" instructions to turn right and climb. The trail is now well established. Just go straight.
The 2nd choice has you leave the parking lot parallel to the Interstate, immediately crossing a branch of the 10 mile creek. If the creek is low or dry, this is the preferred choice in my opinion, as choice 1 runs next to the Interstate shoulder for part of its run, and has a fairly significant descent that you have to climb out of.
Here is a small map of the hike:
The blue track is the hike up, (where we took choice 1) and the red track is the track down (where we took choice 2). The West Tenmile creek was flowing fairly well and we got our feet wet, but that was at the end of the hike and did not matter.
A larger map suitable for printing can be had here
Profiles for the hike up and the hike down
Looking at the end of the hike back towards the rest area:
The text in white is the choice 2 path, the bike path is labeled and seen to go off to the right of the picture. Marina is on the far left walking back to the parking lot.
We left the parking lot at 9:20 in the morning and walked down the bike path to the gulch. At about 9:40 and at 0.8 miles, we left the bike path and started up the gulch proper. At 34 minutes and 1.1 miles in, you will notice the remains on a large sign on your right. At 43 minutes and 1.3 miles in, a small but pretty water fall awaits you on your left:
Looking back towards the Interstate from this vantage point is a another pretty scene:
Looking up the trail:
At 1 hour 13 minutes in, at 1.9 miles, I noticed a blaze on a tree (I think I missed some), on the left of the trail:
At 2 hours in, and at 3 miles we passed some electrical poles. Finally at 2 hours, 15 minutes and 3 hours and 15 minutes in, we stopped for lunch:
This was the high point of our hike. While it was a pass of sorts, in that if we kept going straight we would descend, the actual Ptarmigan pass was off to the left and reached by a road. As we would have hit more snow, and less meadow, we decided to call this the far point of our hike.
On the way back down, I did not want to have to go all the way to the
bike path and climb again. I hate paying for the same real estate twice.
We passed a number of trails off to our left (going down hill) but ignored
them. Finally as Marina and I left the trail following more or less a constant
contour. We soon struck a trail (that must of left the main trail earlier
than we did) with blazes.
You can see the blaze on the tree stump on the right. In the center of the picture you can make out the faint trail.
The blazes are similar to one one shown above. It was not long before the rest area came into sight. We did get our feet wet crossing the West 10 Mile Creek, but as we were basically done with the hike, we did not care. I suspect by mid-July the creek is low enough for an outbound crossing.
Other pictures from the hike can be seen here.
Feedback to Don Samuels
Back to Hikes Page
Back to Snowedunder Home
This page last updated July 16, 2003