Riding a horse from Vail to Aspen will be one of the most memorable journeys you ever make. This four day, three night trip traverses some of the most spectacular backcountry nestled in Colorado. Nights are spent in Tenth Mountain Division Huts and private guest ranches, which provide nearly all of the comforts of home.
The horseback trip is suitable for riders of any level. Gentle horses and easily navigable terrain make the trip possible for beginners, while the stunning scenery and backcountry nature of the trip make it an adventure for even the most experienced of horse people.
The first and third nights on the trail will be spent in Tenth Mountain Division Huts. These beautiful, cabin-like structures are nestled in the woods with beautiful decks overlooking spectacular vistas - the perfect place to unwind after stepping off your horse. The interior of each of the huts is cozy and comfortable, and set up for communal living.
The first day on the trail is almost always the most challenging as we adjust to our horses, saddles, each other, etc. The first day of the Vail to Aspen ride is also the longest - usually around eight hours. In other words, by the time we reach the Peter Estin Hut the first evening, we will have had plenty of time to work out all of the kinks (except for the new ones in your rear-end). We ask that all guests arrive at Bearcat Stables at eight o’clock. We will do a brief riding demonstration and some introductions before saddling everyone up. The Squaw Creek section of the trail is a meandering path generally paralleling Squaw Creek and crossing it a number of times. We will ride through serviceberry and pine trees alternated by wide open alpine meadows. We will pass through an old saw mill area before beginning our climb away from the creek bed towards the New York Mountains. Mid day we will descend into the Fulford area, where we will stop for lunch. The second half of the day will be a long steady climb towards Peter Estin Hut. We should arrive there by 6pm, just in time for appetizers on the deck with sunset as the background.
Day two begins with a descent from Peter Estin Hut through aspens and wide open meadows with sweeping views. This morning ride is ranchland Colorado, with cattle grazing in the distance, on wide meadows of knee-high grass. After a lunch break, a short afternoon ride past the beautiful Lime Creek Canyon will bring us to the Fryingpan River valley just above Reudi Reservoir. We will ride right into the guest ranch, our home for the evening. The ranch boasts hot showers, flush toilets, and even a hot tub. Because this is a shorter ride day (~7 hours), we will have plenty of time to enjoy these amenities. A hearty dinner will be served at the ranch around 7pm.
Day three is the shortest ride of all four days (~5-6 hours). This permits a leisurely morning at the ranch, or for those morning people, a regular departure time and a leisurely evening at Margy’s Hut. From the ranch we will make a steady ascent towards the jewel of the Aspen ride - the summit of Mt. Yeckel. We will stop for lunch just below the summit in a secluded meadow nestled among pine trees. Make sure to have your camera ready for this afternoon - the three hundred sixty degree views from Yeckel will take your breath away - Maroon Bells, New York Mountains, Flattops, all of it spread out below you. Margy’s Hut will welcome us, as did the others, with a hot dinner and spectacular views of the Williams Range from the dining room. It is from the deck of Margy’s that you will first glimpse our destination - the slopes of Aspen.
Our final day on the trail will be about a six hour ride. We will cover varied terrain as we climb in and out of small valleys on our descent towards Aspen. Our ride will skirt the historic mining town of Lanedo, and then sneak peaks at the back side of some of the beautiful homes outside of Aspen will be our first warning of the return to civilization.
We look forward to you joining us on this incredible trip!
Indian Summer Outfitters, LLC is an equal opportunity service provider. Indian Summer Outfitters, LLC is under special use permit by the White River National Forest. Colorado Outfitter No. 2227