aspen grove on Game Creek Trail

Happy Hiking: Game Creek Trail

Boy did I hit the gold mine, or should I say the gold colors for fall hiking on Game Creek Trail.  What a lucky pick! 

I took VANgo on her maiden voyage to Minturn, Colorado.  On Thursday, I hiked nine miles to Grouse Lake.  I also planned to hike twelve miles on Saturday.  As much as I wanted to hike to Booth Lake, 10 miles and 3,000 feet of elevation, it seemed a little daunting for three days of hiking in a row with a bad knee.  In addition, it is heavily trafficked with little parking.

Game Creek Trail

  • Game Creek Trail
  • Distance:  7 miles
  • Type: Moderate, out-and-back
  • Elevation Gain: 2,378 ft
  • Other: Dogs Allowed
  • All Trails Link

As a result, I reluctantly chose Game Creek Trail as I felt like a needed a slightly easier option for me and quieter option for my rescue dog, Annie. Despite only seeing one comment about aspen on AllTrails, I crossed my fingers and hoped that this 7-miler, which gains 2,378 feet, would be nice for fall colors.

What a spectacular surprise!  The ENTIRE seven miles of trail passed through one aspen grove after the next.  In addition, the surrounding slopes were dotted with golden leaves as well!  I’m finding myself still so excited over the color, that I’ve gotten ahead of myself!

Getting to Game Creek Trail

The trail parking is located up Minturn Road across the train tracks and up the hill from the popular Minturn Saloon which has been around for years. The building dates back to 1901 and has housed many taverns. Consider having lunch or drink after the hike at this historic gem.

The dirt area for cars just lines the road.  Don’t be fooled and head down the trail by the parking.  Instead, walk up the road to the trailhead which is on the right behind someone’s home.  Public access is through private property, so be respectful and stay on the trail.

The Hike Up

Game Creek Trail climbs moderately for the first two miles as it follows Game Creek.  In the beginning the path meanders through golden ground cover, red bushes, and glimmering aspen.  I forced myself to stop snapping photos, as I began at 7:30 in the morning and the sunlight wasn’t even shining on the foliage yet.  I knew that my return would offer more vibrancy.

That said, I was the only one on the trail, so I wanted to take advantage of hiker free photos.  I actually had the trail to myself for three full hours!  Yes, normally I would have been close to finished with a 7-mile trail in three hours, but I was in such awe of the aspen, the valley, and the views that it took me three hours one way!

Annie and I spotted a few deer that bounced across the path before we made the turn out of the valley and up the mountain to Eagles Nest, part of the ski resort.  Who knew we’d find a cut out of a moose at the top!  I only saw it out of the corner of my eye, and it scared me as I was practicing with Annie off leash since I was hiking in National Forest. 

For anyone who doesn’t know, moose hate dogs!  I was happy to realize it was fake, though I did not know I was hiking to civilization with facilities on the peak.  Regardless, no one was there and we were rewarded with magnificent views of the multicolored mountains.

view from Game Creek Trail

8 second video view

The Return

It wasn’t until my return down that I crossed paths with a single fellow hiker.  I got all the way down to the valley before I ran into anyone else.  It’s weird how there isn’t a soul anywhere and then ten people merge on top of one another.  It quickly cleared out, though the dog owners in this area really need to learn how to control man’s best friend.

I put Annie back on the leash as she is not fully trained.  Apparently, all other dog owners thought their dogs were despite none of them returning to their owners with recall.  Regardless of bad owners who think all people love dogs and all dogs are friendly, the Game Creel Trail itself was truly remarkable.

I’m stunned there were only about 15 hikers enjoying its magnificent beauty while there were probably 100 visitors to Booth Falls!  This trail is definitely a hidden gem and worthy of a return fall hike!  ETB

Other Articles About Vail You May Like

Shop

For notecards and key chains, visit My Shop

Best Travel Blog

Published by

Beth Bankhead

Former public finance professional turned travel photographer and blogger.

8 thoughts on “Happy Hiking: Game Creek Trail

  1. Oh my goodness, the aspens! I’m headed to the Minturn area tomorrow (hopefully… we’ll see about the smoke situation) so hopefully some of them are still hanging on. Definitely adding this trail to the list as well for the future!

    1. It is beautiful! I read one comment on AllTrails that there were a lot of mtn bikers. I presume that was on a weekend. Fingers crossed you see some color!

      1. We did end up going yesterday… not the same trail, but TONS of aspens on the drive through Vail/Minturn area!

Leave a Reply