Trail Run Project Logo

Pitkin Creek Trail



9.8 mile 15.7 kilometer out and back
74% Runnable


Ascent: 2,894' 882 m
Descent: -2,893' -882 m
High: 11,352' 3,460 m
Low: 8,462' 2,579 m


Avg Grade: 11% (6°)
Max Grade: 47% (25°)


Driving directions Take a virtual tour
Zoom in to see details
Map Key

Alpine meadows lead to Pitkin Lake nestled in the craggy Gore Range.

Nick Wilder

Features Birding · Fall Colors · Fishing · Geological Significance · Lake · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife


The north side of the Vail valley is blessed with several steep but rewarding trails leading all they way from the valley to the high alpine. This one is a little longer than it's neighbors, perhaps a little less steep, and just as spectacular. It is less crowded than Booth Creek, and a good option if you want a little more solitude.

Need to Know

If you would like to know more about parking, transportation and popularity of this trail, check out Hike Vail.


The first half mile of trail is the steepest - don't get discouraged right off the bat. It starts in a dense aspen grove; a great place to enjoy the colors if you do it in the fall. Over the next couple miles, you'll pass through grassy meadows, stands of lodgepole pine (many are dead from the pine bark beetle epidemic), and get close to the creek a few times.

At about 2.5 miles - halfway to the top - you'll get a good view of Pitkin Falls. Enjoy the view and get ready for several more bench sections that have alternating steep climbs and then beautiful meadows that will be filled with wildflowers in July and August.

Break out of treeline just as you reach Pitkin Lake at 11,360'.

Your return journey will be equally as spectacular, as you'll have views all they way down the narrow drainage that you've ascended, and beyond.

Flora & Fauna

The fishing is reputed to be quite good here.

History & Background

If you look carefully, you'll see the remnants of several glacier moraines that result from the retreat of glaciers that sculpted this valley long ago.

Run this trail?

We need help with the following missing trail information:

Runner Notes

Is something wrong? Let us know. Have photos to share? Help fellow runners know what's here.


Rate This Run

Rate Quality

   Clear Rating

Rate Difficulty

Share This Run

Check In


Jun 8, 2019
Jenna Nicol
POSTHOLING with no snowshoes. So much snow. So much time spent finding the trail. But LOVED it. First hike with Ben. — 8h 00m
Jun 6, 2019
Charles Danforth

Trail Ratings

  4.3 from 12 votes


in Vail


  4.3 from 12 votes
5 Star
4 Star
3 Star
2 Star
1 Star
Run Rankings


in Vail


in Colorado


29 Views Last Month
6,432 Since May 4, 2016



Leaving Pitkin Lake. The beauty is even more spectacular on the return trip.
Aug 5, 2019 near Vail, CO
Pitkin Lake
Feb 19, 2018 near Vail, CO
Pitkin Creek from the bridge near the trailhead.
Jul 23, 2019 near Vail, CO
Fall Colors
Oct 9, 2019 near Vail, CO
About halfway to the lake...
Jul 23, 2019 near Vail, CO
spectacular aspen
Oct 9, 2019 near Vail, CO


Trail Run Project is part of the REI Co-op family,
where a life outdoors is a life well lived.

Shop REI Running