Sunday, January 7, 2018

North Trail Snowshoe (Red Sandstone Road West)

Distance: 4 miles round trip
Elevation: 8,240 ft - 9,040 ft
Elevation Gain: 800 ft (net) 919 ft (cumulative)
Date Hiked: 19 January, 2013
Bathroom at Trailhead: No
Dogs: On leash but many off
Tags: #snowshoe, #winter, #coloradooutdoors, #vail

A typical segment on the North Trail...this time looking back to the east and a hillside covered with Aspens. 
North Trail, across the valley from the Vail Ski Resort, is 11.5 miles long but with parking lots interspersed every 3 to 4 miles, you can easily break it up into segments.  On this trip we started at the parking lot on Red Sandstone Road and headed west.

Map of the entire North Trail
In all honesty we did not even know that this trail existed until we decided to try and snowshoe up Red Sandstone Road out of Vail. In looking at the trail map we noticed North Creek and ended stopping at the trailhead on our way up just out of curiosity. When we discovered that Red Sandstone Road was 100% snowmobiles, as evidenced by the caravan of trucks and trailers parked all along the road, we decided to try the North Trail instead.

Looking south on an early switchback 
Looking at Red Sandstone Road and Vail 
This segment of the North Trail switchbacks and switchbacks up the north side of Vail Valley in an seemingly endless procession. In fact the switchbacks are really only about a mile and the views of Vail are rather revealing. At 1.5 miles the trail entered a beautiful and extensive Aspen Grove (fall hike anyone?) that is deep within a quiet crenelation further from the noise of I-70.  For a short hike this would make a suitable destination although there was no place to sit down. We decided to continue for another half mile to see where the trail led and ended up eating lunch on a nice log protruding from the snow with views of Mt. Holy Cross to the south and the Gore Range to the east.

The view from an upper switchback
Looking back to the east.  Note the narrow trail and steep hillside. 
It was obvious from the well packed trail that this route is popular with the locals. Because of the steepness, and narrowness of the route, we wore our Microspikes, which had all the grip we needed.  Do not attempt this trail without some sort of gripping footwear or you will slide down the hillside faster than a gold-medal winning toboggan team!

The Aspen Grove at 1.5 miles
The view of the Gore Range from our lunch spot at 2.0 miles
While not a wilderness experience, this trail was fun and practically balmy on a sunny day. We saw only two people the entire time.  I will have to check this trail out in the fall.  Note that the trail is closed from April 15th - June 15th for wildlife preservation.

Below is a shameless ad for the Microspikes we wore on this trip.  They really are a winter essential.


ZacMontoya said...

I used to live near the trailhead you've described and I would hike this trail very regularly. Thanks for bloggin on it, brings back awesome memories

Linda W. said...

Looks like you had a beautiful blue sky day. Thanks for sharing your hike with us.