Wilder Gulch

Trail Length: 4.6 mile out-and-back
Trailhead Elevation: 10,500’
Elevation Gain:  600’ elevation gain
Difficulty: Easy

Trailhead Location:  Drive Interstate 70 west past Copper Mountain to the Vail Pass summit. Turn off at exit 190. Cross over the interstate, and park in the roomy rest stop parking area.

We had planned to go for a hike last Saturday and we were thinking about Forest Lakes in the James Peak Wilderness area.  However, my brother-in-law texted me late Friday night and told me they were thinking of heading up to Wilder Gulch near Vail Pass and asked if we wanted to join them so we decided to take him up on the offer.  Wilder Gulch is known for many beautiful wildflowers this time of year and I knew Lisa would enjoy photographing them!

We met my brother-in-law and sister-in-law (and their dog Mesa) at the El Rancho Park-n-Ride just outside of Bergen Park at 7:30am and headed up to the top of Vail Pass for our hike.  We wanted to get an early start as rain was predicted later in the day.  We parked and headed out on the trail at 8:45am.

A short distance up the trail looking down towards the Copper Mountain Ski area.  I thought his quote from Buffalo Bill was fitting for this picture.

Wilder Gulch

Another view a little further down the trail.

Wilder Gulch

After 0.5 miles, the trail heads over a grassy rise and drops into Wilder Gulch.

Wilder Gulch-trail

The trail then turns to the right and begins heading up the gulch along the northwest creek bank into the open meadow.  A view of Ptarmigan Peak in the distance.

Wilder Gulch-Ptarmigan Peak

Some of the many flowers we saw along the trail.

Wilder Gulch-BluebellsBluebells

Wilder Gulch-Purple LarkspurPurple Larkspur

Wilder Gulch-Indian PaintbrushIndian Paintbrush

Wilder Gulch-IrisWild Iris

Wilder Gulch-WIldflowers

Wilder Gulch-Iris

Wilder Gulch-Iris

Wilder Gulch-wildflowers

We continued on up the trail along the creek to the junction of an old jeep road.  A right fork follows Wearyman Creek and Turkey Creek to Red Cliff, while a left fork goes over Ptarmigan Pass and drops into Camp Hale.

Wilder Gulch-Trail Sign

We stopped here (approximately 2.3 miles from the trailhead).  After a short break (we were being eaten alive by mosquitoes!), we turned around and headed back down the valley.  A view looking back down the valley.  One of the many beaver ponds we saw along the creek.

Wilder Gulch-Beaver Pond

It was a pleasant walk back down the valley.  We saw many little blue butterflies along the trail.

Wilder Gulch-butterfly

Another big meadow of purple flowers as we neared a final stream crossing before getting back to the car.

Wilder Gulch-Wildflowers

Wilder Gulch-Stream

It was a short but beautiful hike in the High Country.  After getting back to the car, we headed on west to the small mountain town of Minturn to take in their Saturday Farmers Market before heading back home.  We were spared the rain on our hike but ran into some showers as we were driving back home.

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