Vail’s Trail Names: Part 2

Oct. 1, 2012

Part 2 in our series explaining the stories behind some of the most asked about trail names in Vail! And in case you missed it, here’s Part 1. 

historic vail trail names

BLUE OX: Located on the Front Side in the Northeast Bowl, this bowl’s trail names reference the area logging operations that went on in the late 1800s. The name “Blue Ox” refers to the American folk legend of Paul Bunyan. He was said to be a giant lumberjack of great strength and ability whose favorite companion was the equally massive and strong Blue Ox named Babe.

GANDY DANCER: Another trail located in the Northeast Bowl, Gandy Manufacturing Company made tools used for laying railroad track. As a result, men who laid railroad track were nicknamed “Gandy Dancers”.

Early Vail trail names

NORTHWOODS: Cut in 1967, Northwoods was the first trail in the Northeast Bowl and existed long before Highline Express Lift #10 and Northwoods Express Lift #11 were built. It is named for the beautiful, tall trees through which it runs.

RAMSHORN: The origin of this trail name is somewhat contested. Some say that the trail winds around in the shape of a ram’s horn while others say that the horns of bighorn sheep were found when the trail was being cut. A common and amusing mispronunciation of this trail name is “Ram Shorn”.

RICKY’S RIDGE: Named for Ricky Andenmatten, a Zermatt, Switzerland native who served as one of Vail’s first ski instructors.

RIVA RIDGE: As you may know, Vail owes much of its history to the 10th Mountain Division, an elite group of mountain warfare light infantry that trained at nearby Camp Hale and served in World War II. The trail name comes from the infantry’s best-known combat achievement on Riva Ridge in the mountains of Northern Italy in February of 1945. You can see a great documentary and display about the 10th Mountain Division story at the Colorado Ski and Snowboard Museum.

LOST BOY: Lost Boy is named for Martin Koether. When he was 14 he skied into Game Creek Bowl by mistake before it was developed and spent the night in a snow cave under a tree while rescuers searched the mountain for him. He made his way safely out of the bowl the following day.

IN THE WUIDES: Named in honor of Paul Testwuide, known by his friends as Wuide and a part of the Vail family since the beginning. He was a major force behind the development of Blue Sky Basin.

POWERLINE: Initially cut to make room for – you guessed it – a power line, it was an unofficial run for many years that was beloved by experts for its narrow width.

WHIPPERSNAPPER: This area was cut as a kid’s adventure zone in 1987 and refers to crotchety adults’ term for rambunctious young ruffians, “Those darn whippersnappers!”
Kids ski whippersnapper Vail

Liking the historic photos in this article? See some of the other gems we found in Vail’s archives.