Two Elk Trail

 11 votes
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Trail

10.0 Miles 16.0 Kilometers


Singletrack

1,825' 556 m

Ascent

-2,927' -892 m

Descent

10,921' 3,329 m

High

8,031' 2,448 m

Low

9%

Avg Grade (5°)

28%

Max Grade (15°)

Unknown

Update

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

Nick Wilder

Description

Closed for elk calving from May 6 to July 1.
The trail is very steep and much harder on the east end (from I-70 up to Two Elk Pass). The western portion 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.

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4.5 from 11 votes


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Oct 3, 2014
lubes 17319
3rd time this year, so good!! 18.3mi
Sep 1, 2014
Kristen Adell
Sep 27, 2012
Jonathon Braud
Interesting trip

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Trail Ratings

  4.5 from 11 votes

#2

in Vail Resort

#111

Overall
  4.5 from 11 votes
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#2

in Vail Resort

#39

in Colorado

#111

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7,876 Since Oct 10, 2012
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one of my favorites. although usually ridden via shuttle starting at Bowmans shortcut, we like to start out of lionshead or vail village, riding up mill creek road (hell of a 7 mile climb) or taking a gondola up and taking grand traverse over. Jul 17, 2013


Good choice if you're looking for longer backcountry ride. Approach via Vail Pass/Bowmans, or climb up through the ski resort to drop in; the technical sections are relatively short and quick to walk if you need, most of the trail is fast classic cross country singletrack. Although this trail is perhaps relatively technical compared to the rock-less trails downvalley in Eagle, it is not difficult relative to stuff in Moab or Gunnison areas etc. May 15, 2015


I can't speak for going down, but riding up from the West end in Minturn is a tough long climb, several brief hike-a-bike sections from steep grade or rocks, but mostly doable depending on your fitness level. Some options back to Minturn are back down Two Elk, or across the top of the ski resort and down either Courgar Ridge or Game Creek trail. Loved Two Elk, I imagine it's a blast going down, the scenery is great, very dense vegetation felt like I was in a jungle half the time. Worth doing in either direction, up for a challenging climb, down for an awesome descent. Jul 28, 2015


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