The Upper Piney trail begins at the end of Red Sandstone Road, outside of the Piney River Ranch entrance, and ends at Upper Piney Lake, and is roughly 7 miles each way. Begin your journey outside of the ranch (where public parking is available), pass Piney Lake and gently climb through an open meadow before entering the forest and reaching a cascading waterfall about three miles in. The average hiker will have no problem reaching the waterfall destination in about an hour and a half. However, the trail becomes less distinct and more difficult after the falls, and becoming steeper as it approaches Upper Piney Lake and takes you to Knee Knocker Pass. Beyond this, the Upper Piney River Trail provides access to Mt. Powell, peaking at 13,580’ in elevation, and is also the highest summit in the Gore Range. Fewer people use the trail after the 5.5 mile mark, so exercise caution.
Join a Walking Mountains Backcountry guide for a fun and educational 2 hour hike along the Piney River, followed by time to enjoy the historic Piney River Ranch. Opportunities at Piney include horseback riding, canoeing & lunch at their onsite restaurant (added cost applies). Transportation to and from Piney from Vail & Avon is provided.
What to Expect:
Your day starts at 8:30 by meeting your guide at Walking Mountains Science Center in Avon, or one of four convenient pickup locations between Avon & Vail. We will load a Walking Mountains van and drive the scenic hour along Red Sandstone Road to Piney River Ranch. After a brief orientation to the Ranch, we will take a leisurely, educational hike along the Upper Piney River. You will experience the beauty of the Colorado Rockies, learn about what critters live in our streams & forests, and your guide may even bring some surprises to share along the way! Moose and other wildlife are commonly seen at the far end of the lake, and this is a beautiful place to learn about Colorado’s wildlife & wilderness areas! After the hike, you will have about 1 ½ hours to enjoy all that Piney River Ranch has to offer. We will load the vans at 1:15 and return to Vail & Avon by 2:30.
Reservations are required and are made through Walking Mountains Science Center.
Guided Hike - Wednesdays in July and August
$40 for adults (17+) & $25 for children (8-16)