Enjoying all that free downhill vertical from the gondola rides, but tired of the crowds or looking for something a bit more cross-country? This is a great alternative. Don't confuse this with Cougar Ridge
which also descends to Minturn, but at a harder grade caused by severe erosion.
From the Eagle Bahn gondola, head west on the paved path (Eagle's Loop
) to its farthest point. Pass some warning signs (saying that you're leaving the ski area), and head through meadows straight down the beautiful ridge. You eventually come to an unsigned intersection: the right branch is the Matterhorn Trail
(harder, but a shorter loop that ends in West Vail). This Game Creek Trail
ride takes the left branch, which turns back sharply to the left and heads into lower Game Creek bowl. A pleasant descent through the aspens ends near the creek in a peaceful meadow.
You now follow the creek all the way down to Minturn. There's one short technical section where a rock slide covered the trail, but otherwise it's smooth sailing.
The trail end is kind of weird - basically in somebody's back yard - but it's completely legal (with National Forest signage and all). From here, follow the neighborhood road to the bike path and cruise back to the gondola for another lap!