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A Family Friendly Mountain Getaway

August 3, 2020
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Sometimes we need an escape from our vacation and Piney River Ranch is your go to destination to get out of the hustle and bustle of town and into the relaxing and serene wilderness of Colorado. Nestled at the foot of The Gore Range, Piney River Ranch and Piney Lake, have been a top destination for travelers and locals alike for many years. Located about 12 miles north of Vail, a dirt road, which will take most drivers around 45 minutes, will lead you to one of the most breathtaking views in the Valley. The road is suitable for most vehicles but an SUV is recommended.

A trip up to Piney, is the perfect day trip from Vail or Avon. Head up early in the morning to beat the crowds and to get a chance to see some wildlife. A resident Moose is spotted in the mornings at the lake fairly often. After you arrive, you will be welcomed by the stunning Gore Range, rising high above the lake and over looking the ranch. The first order of business, take in the view. Get out your camera and enjoy the scenery before diving into any other activities.

Piney River Ranch is a host for many activities suitable for the entire family.


For the avid angler in the group, Piney Lake and the small river that flows into it are a trout fisherman's paradise. If you have gear and a fishing license, feel free to fish away. Cutthroat, Brooke, Rainbow and Brown trout can all be caught in these waters. The river that flows into the lake is best fished with a light weight fly setup. The lake can be fished with either a fly rod or a spin rod and reel. Piney River Ranch does offer rentals for $20 for 2 hours.

Horse Back Riding

One of the best ways to see the Colorado backcountry is from the saddle of a horse. Take in views of the surrounding valley, wildflower meadows and hopefully catch a glimpse of the local residents, Elk, Deer and Moose. Piney Ranch offers 1 and 2 hour rides daily. Rides are scheduled at 10am and 2pm and are subject to change based on bookings. If interested please fill out this Horseback Riding Form.

Canoeing and SUP

Enjoy the breathtaking views from the lake either with a friend in a canoe or solo on a Stand Up Paddle Board. The lake is usually very calm and easy to navigate. The ranch offers rentals starting at $30/Hour which includes paddles, life vests and basic instructions.


Colorado is home to some of the most beautiful hikes in the country and this area is no exception. If you are looking for a short stroll, there is a path that follows the North side of the lake that can be walked in a short amount of time and is relatively flat. If you are looking for something a bit more challenging, Upper Piney Falls is a 6.4 mile RT hike that starts from that same path. The trail is unmarked but heavily trafficked and easy to navigate. Your reward is a beautiful waterfall that overlooks the valley below.


If you forgot to pack something, don’t worry! Piney Ranch offers a great to-go lunch right at the lake. In keeping up with Covid protocol, lunch will only be served to-go and outdoor seating will be provided. See the 2020 Menu for all options.

As always with Colorado and being up at high altitudes, weather is subject to change. Make sure you are prepared for all that mother nature may throw at you.

After living in Vail for almost a decade, I still find myself heading up to the lake every summer to camp, hike, fish or even just relax. The view truly never gets old. I recommend this area for anyone who comes to visit the valley in the summer.

Have fun and enjoy the outdoors!

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