Exploring Local - East Vail Falls, Vail, Colorado
A few days ago we let our adventurous side take over and made the decision to hike... well, climb and lunch out - up at the waterfalls located in East Vail, right off i70 (take the East Vail exit). Some background on this hike - not for the faint of heart and not for people who are afraid of heights - you will be climbing up and down three different steep sections holding onto nothing but a trusty climbing rope, if you question your physical ability pick another hike to be safe. Getting there is bit tricky - I've scout this hike a few different times because I have heard numerous people climb up here and I have seen people on top of the falls across from Sims Market in EV, Colorado. You'll want to park in the recreation lot directly off i70 - where kayakers and SUPaddle boarders often park to unload gear to launch into the river next to Bighorn road - see my map below:
Park in this lot here shown above - walk across the bridge labeled 'Bridge Road' you'll pass a few of Vail's finer homes take the first left and begin walking closer to the falls. This hike is best done Spring or early Summer as it begins to drain out towards the end of the warmer seasons - this is one of the drainage points of all the snow from our winter season at Vail mountain. You'll see a sign in front of the East Vail Falls hike that says "Public land granted by the Town of Vail for enjoyment of the East Vail falls..." find the trail and start hiking into the dense brush that kicks off the hike. You'll cross the creek once and then again to get to the left side of the falls (when facing the falls) that's where you'll want to be start to the climb up. Avoid this hike after hard rains / high waters will wash out the bottom of the hike.
You'll find yourself here (image above) looking at the base of the waterfalls - the start of the trek/climb up to the top - allow a few hours for this hike going up can go slow trying to figure out how the trail snakes and winds up the left side of the creek beds. I recommend going up to the left side - well that's really the only way to go up unless your a bouldering rock climber. You'll see a tight trail crossing up and up thru the steep valley on the left side of the falls - keep climbing up and up - until you see falls close up again which is where you will begin the first of three rope climb sections.
Each rope section is securely attached to a large tree above - without these ropes you won't be able to make it up these sections of the hike. For this reason make sure you have on solid shoes with good traction and steer away from this hike if it's damp or raining out. The image above shows Lil_E climbing and pulling herself up the rope - be sure to assess your physical condition before attempting this hike - the walk into the falls is a beautiful view, make a smart decision on if you should climb up inclines like this one or not. We even looked at each other a few times wondering if we should keep climbing up but don't give up because this hike intimidates you - assess each leg of this adventure carefully and you'll come out a more experienced hiker in the end. This hike takes strategy, pushes physique and our teamwork was put to the test - definitely take a partner with you and not the best trail for dogs (or at all). Once at the top we found ourselves with a spectacular view of the Gore Range and enjoyed our lunch taking in the sun rays and listening to the water crash off the 40 foot waterfall below. The view and lunch spot was well worth the challenge - I recommend this hike to those looking to push themselves out of their comfort zone a bit - in the end that's what makes you a more progressive adventurer.
East Vail Falls Checklist: Solid shoes, plenty of water, packed lunch (if that's your plan), camera, mental strength, understanding of where the trail begins, a confident trail buddy
(NOT your dog, sorry Fido, we will have some hikes for you soon)...
Any questions let us know! Thanks for reading - stay tuned for more adventures coming soon... ~MYT