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Two Elk Trail

Difficult
 4.4 (30)

A huge adventure across the mountains making up the back side of Vail.


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Map Key

10.0

Miles

16.0

KM

Singletrack

10,921' 3,329 m

High

8,031' 2,448 m

Low

1,825' 556 m

Up

2,927' 892 m

Down

9%

Avg Grade (5°)

28%

Max Grade (15°)

Dogs Off-leash

E-Bikes Unknown

The portion of this trail between the Vail Bike Path on the eastern end and 1 mile from the trailhead on the western end is closed for elk calving from May 6 to June 30.

Description

The trail is very steep and much harder on the east end (from I-70 up to Two Elk Pass). It is mostly unridable until you get to the pass - you've been warned! The western portion (starting at the pass) is considerably easier.

Many loops and epic rides are possible, though most require a shuttle.

From the east trailhead, follow the Old Vail Pass road, now the Vail Pass Recreation Path, 1.8 miles to the junction with the true Two Elk Trailhead on the right. The trail drops from the recreation path to a bridge crossing the Black Gore Creek, then passes under I-70 into the tight Timber Creek canyon which is a cool shady forest alongside the creek. At mile 2.6 the trail makes a sharp right across a third bridge before starting the steepest climb.

From Two Elk Pass, a bunch of trails diverge. Don't worry too much as long as you're on one that is going downhill to the west, under the Mongolia bowls of Vail ski area. Other trails make some other good rides... but that's for another day.

There is evidence of an older version of the Two Elk trail that goes is deeply rutted and goes straight down the drainage. The new trail is now very smooth, easy, well built, and winds around the open meadow.

Continue down, passing the bottom of ski lifts. You'll cross a few roads, but never stay on one for more than 100' or so, and you'll find the singletrack again. You might have to look around in a few places, but it's all there.

Once you leave the ski area behind you, the forest gets thicker and the trail rockier. It follows Two Elk Creek for several more miles of moderate to difficult (due to rocks) until eventually popping out at the valley floor.

You'll be at the end of Cemetary Rd (and a shooting range, which is a little disconcerting after so many miles of backcountry riding). Follow the road for a mile or two into Minturn.

Contacts

Shared By:

Nick Wilder

Trail Ratings

  4.4 from 30 votes

#4

in Vail Resort

#279

Overall
  4.4 from 30 votes
5 Star
60%
4 Star
30%
3 Star
3%
2 Star
7%
1 Star
0%
Trail Rankings

#4

in Vail Resort

#92

in Colorado

#279

Overall
43 Views Last Month
21,531 Since Oct 10, 2012
Difficult

0%
0%
5%
0%
89%
5%

Photos

Riding the iconic Two Elk East Trail in Vail, Colorado with fellow Yeti ambassadors Tom Sampson and Sarah Rawley. #FollowCamFriday
Dec 6, 2016 near Vail, CO
Biking through Vail's Back Bowls
Jan 16, 2020 near Minturn, CO
Big skies and wild flowers abound in outer Mongolia Bowl.
Jul 14, 2015 near Minturn, CO
Thomas zig'n and zag'n through vail resorts outer Mongolian Bowl
Sep 19, 2013 near Minturn, CO
Still climbing.
Aug 24, 2015 near Minturn, CO
The upper part of the Two Elk trail is gorgeous and really easy.  It gets more technical as you get closer to Minturn.
Nov 16, 2012 near Vail, CO

Weather


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Add Your Check-In

Check-Ins

Sep 5, 2020
Christopher Schnur
Aug 2, 2020
Cindy Murphy-Sewell
Jul 18, 2020
Brad Schildt
21mi
Sep 19, 2019
Jason Gaines
Sep 1, 2018
Anthony Cornel
12.5mi
Jul 14, 2018
Snowboard Biker
Half trail
Sep 14, 2017
Aaron T.
Aug 28, 2017
Andrew Wight
Top of Gondi, all the way around and back to Lionshead 25.4mi