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Booth Falls Hike

July 18, 2013

The weekend before I left town for my fabulous beach getaway, I had a chance to hike Vail’s Booth Falls trail.  Booth Falls is one of the most popular trails in the valley, and I quickly remembered why.

Booth Falls Hike

The trail climbs quickly out of East Vail, but not as steeply as many of the other trails in the area, and offers beautiful mountain views almost immediately.

Booth Falls Views

On this particular afternoon, those mountains had some ominous-looking clouds hovering above them.  It is definitely that time of year when the weather has made afternoon hikes iffy.  Booth Falls Hike

The storm looked high and far enough away that we weren’t too concerned about it, plus we were staying below the tree line, but when in doubt err on the side of caution when hiking – a great hike is never worth getting struck by lightning. (File that one under the most obvious advice you’ve received all day.)

Booth Falls Trail

After meandering through a high meadow, we entered the trees.

Booth Falls Aspens

The recent rains have kept the vegetation lush, and there were some wildflowers to be found (though nothing as impressive as the wildflowers on my recent hike in Edwards).

Booth Falls Greenery

Columbine on Booth Falls Trail

We knew there were a couple of creek crossings coming up, and they couldn’t come fast enough for our canine hiking companion, who was burning up!  She has also mastered the art of looking pathetic.

Hot dog

There’s a happy dog! 

Ella in the creek

When we reached the creek crossings, I remembered how much fun it can be to balance on rocks and logs on the way over.  It totally brings me back to the days of playing in the woods as a kid.

Booth Creek Crossing

Along the Booth Falls trail, you can hear Booth Creek the whole way and the volume increases as you approach the falls.  When it reaches a fever pitch, you know you’re almost there. 

Booth Creek

The destination of this hike is the falls overlook, and it’s actually somewhat easy to miss.  After the steepest section of the hike so far (you’ll know it!), you’ll emerge into a small flat clearing blanketed by pine needles.  The falls are to your left, and you’ll have to carefully crane your neck out over the edge to get a good look at them.

I wish there was a better viewing area to take in these magnificent falls, but alas, Mother Nature did not comply.  Here’s the upper part:

Upper Booth Creek Falls

And the lower section:

Booth Falls

There are some rocks right along the edge that make a great spot to sit, chill and have a picnic, so long as you’re not afraid of heights.

Booth Falls Shoes

From here, you could opt to continue on for about another 3 miles to Booth Lake for a longer hike (I’ve never done it and have no idea how much longer it would take).  We also passed some backpackers on the trail, which leads me to believe that this trail connects to others that would allow for a multi-day jaunt.  

Booth Falls

We were content with the hike we’d had so far (a little more than 1 hour’s worth of work to get up to the falls) and still a little concerned about the dark clouds, so we turned around and headed back to the trail head. 

Booth Falls Trail

The views were just as lovely on the way down.

Booth Falls

For a relatively quick hike – ours was about a 2-hour round trip – with a great reward at the top, Booth Falls can’t be beat in Vail.  Its short length makes it a great one for visitors who might get worn out on a longer hike at high altitude.  Just be sure to allow more time for rest breaks if you are acclimating from sea level.

If you go…

Directions to the Trailhead:  From I-70, take exit 180 for East Vail.  Head west on North Frontage Road for .85 miles and turn right on Booth Falls Road.  Drive .2 miles to the trailhead parking.  There is overflow parking down the road near Vail Mountain School, but don’t park in the school’s lot if the trailhead parking is full – that’s not nice and I’ve heard they’ll ticket you! 

Level of Difficulty: Moderate

Hiking Time: Approximately 2-2:30 round-trip

Distance and Vertical Feet: I didn’t track it, but other accounts put it around 4 miles round trip and 1,500 to 1,800 vertical feet.

Speaking of hiking, I am going on my first hut trip ever this weekend and am beyond excited! I can’t wait to tell you all about it next week.  Have a great weekend, wherever you are!

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Donna permalink
    July 18, 2013 8:19 pm

    I’ll be in the Vail Valley in August with my family and this sounds like the perfect hike for us. Your photos are beautiful!

  2. July 19, 2013 10:22 am

    This is such a beautiful route- thanks for sharing it! I’ll have to get my butt up to Vail for all these fun things you’ve been sharing : )

  3. July 19, 2013 3:47 pm

    Awesome pics!

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