This winter cross country ski trail follows the Ranch Creek four wheel drive road. This road leaves historic Camp Hale, a training ground primarily used by the military during World War II. Camp Hale is partially responsible for the creation of Vail and Beaver Creek Ski resorts, as some of the soldiers who trained at Camp Hale returned to start these world class ski areas. Be sure to read the information sign posted at a turnoff on Highway 24, near the south end of Camp Hale.
This road gains elevation quickly. After 1/4 mile, the road weaves in and out of a mature aspen forest, alternating with open meadows featuring great views to the west and south. At 2 miles, be sure to visit the ruins of a sheep herding camp. It is estimated that these cabins were built around 1870 because of the square headed nails that were used.
At just under 4 miles, you'll reach the summit with amazing views of the Sawatch range and fourteen thousand foot peaks to the south. You may wish to travel a little further down this road to the Jackal Hut a 10th Mountain Division Hut. Jackal Hut is one of the nicest in this link of huts used by cross-country skiers and hikers, and boasts a spacious main floor and a sauna. Call the 10th Mountain Division Hut System for more information at 970-925-5775.
Obtain current avalanche information at 970-827-5687.
This trail is located within the Vail Pass Recreation Fee Demo Site. All users are expected to purchase a pass and follow recommended trail routes. For more information, please contact the Holy Cross Ranger District at 970-827-5715.
It is your responsibility to be aware of the potential risks and to take safety precautions at all times when you visit the National Forest. Changing terrain and weather conditions present a wide variety of hazards. Hazards include, but are not limited to: severe weather, snow and avalanches, obstacles of all kinds such as rocks, trees and stumps; over exertions, hypothermia, and becoming lost; remnants of mining and other activities involving excavations and debris; and exposure to unreasonable acts of other people.
Directions from Vail: Follow I-70 to the Minturn exit (#171). Follow Highway 24 south, through the town of Minturn, and continue a total distance of 14 miles from the interstate until you reach a valley opening. Look for the first major turnoff on the left (east) side onto a dirt road entering Camp Hale. This is the trailhead... park here.The Ranch Creek Road begins on the southeast side of Camp Hale flats. Look for the Ranch Creek Jeep Road sign along FDR 714.