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Shrine Ridge Trail: Hike off of I-70 on Vail Pass

This is a hike known having tons of wildflowers. It’s been on my list for awhile and I finally did a solo hike to catch some of the last wildflowers before nature’s vibrant color palette turns to one of autumnal hues.

This is a great solo hike, family hike or hiking with dogs. It was 39°F when I started on a beautiful Saturday morning. I started at 8:30am and there were only three cars in parking lot. Tip: This is a very popular trail in the Sawatch Range. Start early to beat crowds.

@jenniferbroometv

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♬ Wildest Dreams – Duomo

 

Hike Stats: 4.3 miles round trip, out and back hike

Getting There: From I-70 take exit 190 and head toward rest stop. On the curve, you’ll see a dirt road on the right. There’s a Shrine Pass sign there. Drive dirt road for a couple of miles to the trailhead. You’ll see the parking are and restrooms.

Shortly after starting the trail descends a little through a thicket of willows then rolls across a meadow. That means you have an easy uphill coming at the end of hike. With the willows, a small pond in the meadow and chill on the air, I was hoping to see a moose but no luck.

As I got into the trees, I started seeing more wildflowers with a gradual incline through the forest.

At about 1.3 miles into the hike and just below ridge line, I came out of the forest, skirted some trees and got treated to a great view.

The steepest part of climb is a very short incline up to ridge.

At the top of the ridge you have three options. Go left – no idea where that goes. Enjoy the view right there, although I did see a trail leading down on other side. I took the third option of going to the right towards an interesting rock formation.

Hiking along the ridge I was treated to stunning views on both sides including a great view of Mount Holy Cross. It was a little windy. Temperatures were only in the mid 40s but in full sun it wasn’t too bad.

I came up to a “Y” in trail and went to the right. It was a small loop.

I enjoyed the wildflowers and view of Mount Holy Cross, a 14-er high on my list to hike, and headed back down the trail with wonderful views of the Gore Range. I could even see the ski slopes on Copper Mountain when I got back to the meadow.

History tidbit: Shrine Pass was originally a Ute Indian trail. When miners moved into the area in the late 1800s it became known as Shrine Ridge.

Author Jennifer Broome has hiked and explored extensively in Colorado. The Explore Colorado section is filled with adventures in the state including 3 things to do while leaf peeping in Vail.

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