Welcome to ThinkVail – We hope you find this article about the best Vail hiking trails for kids helpful.
Summer is a magical time here in the Vail valley and one of the reasons for that is because of all the GREAT hiking that is found literally right outside your front door. No matter where you are staying in Vail, a great hike is just minutes away. Hiking is the perfect way to get away from it all, listen to the sounds of nature, enjoy beautiful views and just a wonderful way to remember what is important in life.
Kids are natural hikers, so get them outside and teach them how to enjoy nature and explore their surroundings.
Kids of any age can go hiking. If they are too small to hike on their own, Mom and Dad, you can load them up in a kiddie backpack so they can start to get a feel of what hiking is all about and know what to expect.
If your kids’ are walking then it’s all about finding the right type of hikes and opening their eyes to the joy of being outside. (This is easier said than done in the age of video games.)
Whether you live here or are visiting the Vail area, here are some child-friendly tips and hikes to help you and your family have a great time.
Hiking is super fun and you don’t need a lot of gear but there are some important items that you just need to bring for a fun, successful hike.
See also: Challenging Hikes in the Vail Valley.
Sturdy Hiking Boots You are in the Rocky Mountains, there are rocks, boulders, scree, rivers, streams, steep rises and of course mud puddles. Keep your feet and your kids’, protected and dry. Always wear closed-toe, sturdy shoes.
Short Sleeve T-Shirt It gets hot here, it’s always nice to be able to take layers off to cool down
Sweatshirt The weather changes on a dime and the temperature drops as you go up in elevation. Always have a second layer that you can put on to warm up.
A light Rain Jacket Like clockwork it rains almost every day here in the high country, plan on some rain every day between 1-5pm
Snacks Because everything is better with snacks
Water At altitude you just need more water and you can’t believe what a thirst climbing up even a small hill can generate.
Sunscreen 8150 feet in elevation, means we are super close to the sun and you will burn more easily here than at sea level
Hat/Visor A great way to keep the sun off your face and out of your eyes.
See also: BEST Lightweight Hiking Gear
Video about Hiking in the Vail Valley
Vail Mountain offers fun interpretative hikes where kids can go at their own pace while reading stories about native animals and the environment. Two of these hikes take place on Vail mountain so you will need to take the gondola. and buy a lift ticket to access these trails easily.
Also, at the top of Vail mountain is Adventure Ridge which is a big mountaintop kids’ playground so you can include a hike with the other activities that are offered like alpine slide, zip line, mini golf, climbing wall, rebound trampoline, motor tours and more, and make a whole day of it.
Beaver Creek, Vail’s sister mountain just about 10 minutes to the west also boasts some wonderful kid-friendly trails. Some of these trails start right at the base of the mountain so you won’t even need to buy a lift ticket. Beaver Creek also offers other kid friendly activities at it’s base so aside from the hiking kids’ can also do mini golf, gold-panning, a ropes course and a climbing wall.
It’s really nice to go hiking with a guide especially with kids. Guides know exactly where they are going and what to expect. They have been trained to find interesting items along the trail like seasonal wildflowers, migrating birds, the neighborhood wildlife, and stories and legends regarding the area.
It makes hiking so much less stressful, so your family can just enjoy their time together. Guides also have any gear or items that may be needed for the hike that you didn’t think of. Private hikes can be a little expensive but they customize the hike to your groups abilities and take the planning and worry out of your family hike.
The Beaver Creek Hiking Center is great resource to get your family on the trail. The Hiking Center is located at the base of Beaver Creek next to the lift ticket office.
Walking Mountain Science Center offers Daily, Free, all-ages, hour-long, gentle, educational hike. Learn about the ecology and animal adaptations of this mountain environment. 3 locations, Avon, The Nature Center on Vail Valley Drive and the Nature Discovery Center at the top of the Eagle Bahn Gondola (you will need to buy a lift ticket and ride the gondola)
Paragon Guides Llama Lunch Hikes These unique hikes are tailored to your interests and your children’s ages, and abilities. Half day hike includes a picnic lunch, guide, llama, snacks and water. Kids LOVE the llamas! Younger kids can take shorter hikes while older kids can enjoy longer hikes. Perfect way for families to get together and spend a day outdoors, the llama makes it a day your kids will NEVER forget. These hikes can be expensive but they do sell out every year.
10th Mountain is a non-profit organization that manages a system of 34 backcountry huts in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, connected by 350 miles of trails. These huts (cabins or sometimes yurts) provide a unique opportunity for hikers to enjoy nearby hiking trails while staying in a rustic, safe, comfortable shelter.
Although the hut system is usually identified with adult trips that can be quite challenging, they do offer some family-friendly hut trips that are perfect for the whole family.
Here are two that are accessible by car in the summer (well within a quarter of a mile of the hut) and two that have just short hikes to reach the cabins.
Huts You Can Drive To:
Huts with a Short Hike
We hope you found this article about the Best Vail Hikes for Kids helpful. These are easy and fun hikes for children and for those that are a kid at heart. Please leave a comment if you see any errors, omissions or if you have a story about hiking in Vail, Colorado or local hiking guides. We’d love to hear about it. Thank you for reading.