As the snow begins to melt and flowers start blooming, ski resorts wind down their ski operations. It’s time to put away your ski and snowboard boots and dust off your hiking boots. But while you may not associate ski resorts with summer adventures, many ski areas around North America offer great hiking opportunities and other summer activities. Below, we’ve rounded up a few of the great hiking trails located at or near ski resorts around North America.
Great hiking trails at ski areas
Bridal Veil Falls, the tallest free-falling waterfall in Colorado, features a moderate 1.8-mile, 1-way hike to the top of the falls. A gate to the power plant that sits atop the falls serves as Bridal Veil’s trailhead. Additionally, there’s a new 1.2-mile Bridal Veil Trail that runs from the parking area to the bottom of the falls. However, it’s on the difficult side for most novice hikers and families, as the terrain is rough and uneven, and it has a water crossing during spring and early summer that can be hazardous. Bridal Veil Falls is a 15-minute drive from Telluride.
Accessed at the top of the Steamboat gondola, the Vista Nature Trail is a nice, low-key one-mile loop. The first half of the trail is on a wide gravel path, featuring views of the upper mountain, and with picnic tables alongside it for those who want to bring picnic supplies. The second half of the trail is a dirt, singletrack trail that leads through groves of aspen trees and offers views of the valley. Signs along the trail indicate different species of animals that call Steamboat home. After your hike, enjoy lunch on the Oasis Sundeck.
Blue Lakes Trail, located outside of Breckenridge, pays off with incredible views and unique hiking scenes you won’t just find anywhere. Among its headliners: Beautiful alpine lakes, dramatic vistas, and relics of Breckenridge’s mining history. Round trip is less than one mile, but you can continue upwards another 1.1 miles to a basin with waterfalls. The hike to the waterfalls is easy to moderate. It’ll take about 45 minutes around the lake; 1.5 hours to the falls. Dogs, like on most ski resort trails, must be leashed. Note that the trail is completely above the tree line, starting at 11,748 feet elevation.
Snowbird’s American Fork Twin Peaks Trail is not for the faint of heart, climbing several thousand feet in elevation. However, hikers can cut off a couple hours each way and quite a bit of elevation by taking Snowbird’s scenic tram ride. After exiting the tram it’s about a mile to the ridgeline part of the trail. The American Fork Twin Peaks Trail is lined with wildflowers, stunning views and rocky landscapes. Note that this trail isn’t for novice hikers, especially for those starting at the base of Snowbird. Allow for 2-3 hours if riding the tram and 8 hours if starting at the base.
Stratton Mountain, Vermont
Both Benton MacKaye and James P. Taylor, the fathers of the Appalachian Trail and Long Trail respectively, got their inspiration at the summit of Southern Vermont’s highest peak, where today the footpaths share a route. Experience the popular Stratton Mountain via Long Trail, a 7.2-mile out-and-back trail in the Green Mountain National Forest. It’s a moderately challenging route of just under four hours to complete. The climb is mostly wooded but there are a few small viewpoints along the way. There’s a fire tower that hikers can climb for beautiful, sweeping views. Dogs are welcome, but must be on a leash.
Stowe Mountain Resort, Vermont
For those hikers looking for a challenge, look no further than Stowe’s Cliff Trail, which meanders to the Summit of Mt. Mansfield at 4,393 feet. While it’s a short hike (1.6 miles from gondola), Stowe Mountain Resort rates it as a double black diamond hiking trail. Scaling ladders, climbing over boulders, and crossing deep rock crevices are all part of this hike. However, the views are so worth it. To access Stowe’s Cliff Trail, take the Stowe gondola to the top of the mountain and walk down the gravel road about 200 yards, where the trailhead is on the right.
Mount Baldy, California
One of Southern California’s most popular hiking trails, to the summit of Mt. Baldy, starts from the Mt. Baldy Ski Area parking lot. Hikers can ride the chair up to, or down, from the Top of the Notch Recreation Area. The views at the top are so good that on a clear day you can actually see Catalina Island, which is roughly 70 miles away. The best way to Mt Baldy Peak (10,069 feet) is along Devil’s Backbone. It’s about 3.5 miles one way with an uphill rise of 2,200 feet in elevation. Mt Baldy’s peak is large, flat, and treeless—hence the name. The hike to the summit is well worth it, but just lather up with sunscreen.
Mammoth Mountain, California
You can find a rewarding and scenic hike at Mammoth Mountain regardless of your ability level or stamina. Go for a round-trip hike, or take in the views with a scenic gondola ride (ticket required) to either the top or mid-station, followed by a downhill trek on foot. Choose from several trails on Mammoth Mountain from strenuous to moderate. The Minaret Vista Trail starts behind the Mammoth Mountain Inn, gradually gaining altitude through a mixed conifer forest and then flattening out to an open, pumice-covered ridge. Hikers are rewarded at the vista, with a view of the Minarets, Ritter Range and the river valley below. The hike is three miles round trip.
Mt. Hood, Oregon
The 40-mile Timberline Trail just may be the mother of all ski resort trails. It circumnavigates Mt. Hood along a wilderness of waterfalls, quiet reflecting lakes, wildflower meadows and mountain vistas. Parts of the trail may be closed due to snow, washouts or fallen trees, so check with ranger stations as you plan your hike, especially in the spring. Some good sections include the hike to McNeil Point and the short climb to Bald Mountain, both offering unbeatable scenery.
Alternatively, enjoy hiking trails that meander behind Timberline Lodge, including the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). Timberline Lodge serves as a resupply station for PCT hikers every summer.
Sun Peaks, British Columbia
British Columbia has such an incredible, vast network of trails, and that extends to Sun Peaks. Explore 15 designated hiking trails in Sun Peaks. Choose from low-grade, sightseeing strolls to a summit and a stop at Tod Lake. Start right from the village or take a ride up the Sunburst chairlift and begin at mid-mountain, 6,000 feet above sea level. Trail # 11, Tod Lake & Mount Tod Summit, is the best of both worlds. It meanders around an alpine lake before a push to the top of Mount Tod.
Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia
Whistler Blackcomb boasts 2 mountains with 50 kilometers of trails to access. Ride the resort’s chairlifts and gondolas to access trails that feature stunning vistas, ancient glaciers, alpine lakes, wildflower-filled slopes and more. Among its signature trails is the High Note Trail, which Whistler Blackcomb calls the best hiking experience on Whistler Mountain. The trail starts behind the Inukshuk at the top of the Peak Express chairlift. Hikers will experience great views of Black Tusk and Cheakamus Lake as they descend through rugged, rolling terrain. The hike totals 9.4 kilometers (5.8 miles) and takes 3-4 hours to complete.
Photo header credit: ©Timberline