Featured Vail Bike Trail: Grand Traverse

Jul. 9, 2013

Connecting Eagles Nest to the familiar winter Patrol Headquarters, the 4.9 mile Grand Traverse trail weaves hikers and bikers through Game Creek and Sun Down Bowls providing varying sections of forest and wide open single track. Learn more about biking this classic Vail trail with great views of the Colorado Rocky Mountains.

sun-down-grand-traverse-vail

The trail begins at the top of the Eagle Bahn Gondola and can be ridden as an out and back or a loop,  using Klosers Klimb (temporarily closed for Chair 4 construction) to get to PHQ and riding Grand Traverse back to Eagle’s Nest (a tough 2.2 mile, 900 ft climb for in-shape bikers, see info at bottom).  This description will follow the out and back route, which is currently open for the summer.

From Eagle’s Nest, the trail makes a short climb South and then turns slightly right into Game Creek Bowl, following a single track into fields of wildflowers. The early portions of the trail are popular with hikers, so be sure to stay aware and not get too distracted by the views like the one below:

game-creek-vail-grand-traverse

After crossing under the Game Creek Express (Chair #7) and across several winter ski runs, the trail crosses around the far end of Game Creek Bowl and into Sun Down Bowl. You will pass an intersection for the USFS Cougar Ridge Trail, which is well marked, so stay left.

The views from Sun Down Bowl in the summer are special – but don’t take our word for it, see the pictures below!

Right after entering Sun Down Bowl from Game Creek, view across at Chair 5.

sun-down-bowl-vail

 

Bikers riding near the closeup above, the Grand Traverse in Sun Down Bowl, near the winter trail “Ricky’s Ridge”

sun-down-4-grand-traverse-vail

 

Another shot of a biker on the Grand Traverse, mid Sun Down Bowl

biking-back-bowls-vail

 

After crossing the open grasses of Sun Down Bowl and the Ricky’s Ridge area, the trail enters a pine forest section (this part is one of the best rolling forested downhill sections coming back, so be wary of bikers heading the opposite way with grins on their faces).

An open spot in the Sun Down Bowl forest

sun-down-vail-grand-traverse

 

The trail climbs up towards Chair 5 High Noon Express and the winter Patrol Headquarters. Hawks Deck, near the top of Chair 5 is a great place to rest and have a bite of food before heading back down. Enjoy, you’ve earned it!

As always, for trail conditions and if you have any questions about routes, call Vail Ski Patrol at 970-754-4610 or ask any uniformed Vail employee for help.

Questions? Comments? Suggestions for next featured trail? Let us know in the comments section below!