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Vail, CO: Snow Pass Loop

The Eagles Nest Wilderness doesn’t attract regular Colorado crowds—unless you count the mountain goats. Explore rugged peaks, and pristine alpine lakes on this 13.3-mile route in an under-appreciated Rocky Mountain getaway.

Rating

This 13.3-mile route could be tackled in two or three days and offers add-on options for an additional challenge. Start at the Gore Trail Trailhead and follow Gore Creek heading east. Elevation increases quickly as the trail switchbacks up rocky steps and winds through open forests. At mile 4.3 turn left at a 3-way junction where the trail turns more sharply uphill for the 1.8-mile climb to Gore Lake. Look back during meadow stretches for cross-canyon views of Chief and Buffalo mountains before the trail turns west for the final approach to the lake.
On day two, head cross-country around the east ridge of Snow Peak, to Snow Creek. Near the creek’s widest point, consider a 2-hour, class III scramble detour to the top of 12,904-foot Hail Peak before continuing along the creek toward the rocky basin surrounding Snow Lake. Follow a goat-trail above the lake’s north shore and switchback to the pass for panoramic views of the Deluge and Snow lake basins. Consider the 0.5-mile out-and-back scramble to the steep, rocky summit of Snow Peak before traversing the steep hillside on into the Deluge Lake basin for the night.
If you’ve got stamina on day three, start off with another tough scramble to the summit of 13,180-foot Mt. Vahalla before packing up and following the Deluge Lake trail downhill to close the loop near the trailhead.
The scramble add-ons to this route are short on mileage, but require lots of time, route-finding and sure-footedness. The talus slopes can be loose and are not for the faint of heart.
-Mapped by Kristy Holland & MacKenzie Ryan

To Trailhead

From I-70 headed west toward Vail, take exit 180. Turn left at Big Horn Road, pass under the freeway and continue 3.1 miles to the Gore Creek Trailhead on your left.

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