Hiking guidebooks for Colorado's Summit County and Vail Valley
The Next Page Bookstore in Frisco says: "The Summit Hiker is our best-selling book year-round."


Wildflower: Columbine
Explore the Colorado Rockies in alpine Summit County.

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New! 2016 edition of The Summit Hiker.  
Get a personalized author-autographed copy on this website! 
10th revised edition.
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Hike, Snowshoe or Ski Tour into History with The Summit Hiker!

Click here to see editorial reviews and samples of The New Summit Hiker

 Columbine Flowers Photo

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High Altitude Tip: Remember how fragile the alpine tundra is. A plant may be 75 years old but will die due to trampling under hikers' feet. Stay on the trail, even when allowing others to pass by. Please respect the vulnerability of the alpine ecosystem!


Recreation User Tip:  Avoid hiking trails in the lodgepole forest on windy days due to possible falling trees. This includes trails in the Gore Range and trails around Frisco and Silverthorne, among others. Trees killed by the mountain pine beetle are subject to blow-down. If wind comes up suddenly, retreat to a large open meadow until the gusts subside.
Bring insect repellent with DEET, a necessity due to mosquito-borne West Nile virus. Always remember a wind/rain jacket, long pants, gloves and hat for autumn storms. The temperature can plummet 30 degrees when cloud cover and wind move in.


For additional trails information for both the Vail and Summit County areas, visit the other hiking pages on this site. Take me to The Vail Hiker,.

Updates for Hikers: 

The new trail to the Willow Lakes, offered in the 2013 edition of The Summit Hiker, shortens the trail, formerly 8.5 miles one way, to a more do-able 5 miles one way. Please note that the new edition offers hikers two options for this trail, No. 41. The first is to hike to the Willow Lakes using a trailhead at Rock Creek. The second is to use a trailhead in Silverthorne's Willowbrook neighborhood. Make sure you follow the directions for the trailhead you chose. The first set of directions on page 96 are for Rock Creek; the second directions are for Willowbrook. Also, be sure to check with the Forest Service (970 468 5400) regarding trail conditions. A big wind blew down trees on the trail. Cleanup is underway but checking conditions is recommended.

The Wheeler Lakes Trail in The Summit Hiker, has a new trailhead, located just off I-70 at the Scenic Area parking 1.4 miles south of Officers Gulch. (See the 2013 edition for details and map.) This is about three quarters of a mile north of the former trailhead. However, you may wish to continue to park as The Summit Hiker suggests, at the recreation parking area. This requires a highway crossing. Be aware that the former parking at the right of the I-70 exit ramp is now closed.

The Peaks Trail in The Summit Hiker is becoming dangerous to hikers during its busy days due to heavy use by mountain bikers. We suggest that hikers save the Peaks Trail for low use periods. For example, try weekdays in late May and June, then weekdays again in September and early October.

The Quandary trailhead has moved. Check the 2016 edition of The New Summit Hiker for up to date trailhead info.

Laskey Gulch is littered with fallen beetle kill trees. This beautiful trail no longer appears in The Summit Hker. See the 2016 edition for new trails to use as alternatives.

Check below for high altitude and recreation user tips.


Popular Colorado author, Mary Ellen Gilliland, introduces hikers, cross-country skiers and snowshoers to alpine Summit County's great outdoors, with fifty trails to mine camps, ghost towns, historic high passes, lakes and waterfalls.

    Trails follow 1860s pack train paths, 1870s stagecoach tracks and 1880s narrow-gauge railway routes.

    Nature hikes, peak climbs and trails selected for spectacular mountain scenery invite all kinds of walkers, from families with young children to advanced hikers with mountaineering skills, to explore Summit County, Colorado's exciting high country terrain.

    The author walked and skied the guide's trails, carefully compiled driving directions researched each locale's history and worked closely with the U.S. Forest Service to produce an accurate, up-to-date guidebook specifically for Summit County.

Trails for every ability await a range of hikers, from families with kids to mountaineers:

Check out the "Special Trails for Kids" and trails listed as "Easy" in the "Trails by Difficulty" Section.

Look for "Moderate" and "More Difficult" trails in the "Hikes by Difficulty" section.

Advanced Hikers:
Consult the "More Difficult" and "Most Difficult" listings in "Trails by Difficulty".

THE SUMMIT HIKER serves as a companion to Gilliland's lively SUMMIT A Gold Rush History of Summit County, Colorado.

Mary Ellen Gilliland not only shares information on scenic  trails but helps readers to find and understand evidences of the past all around us...Rebecca Waugh, former Museum Administrator, Summit Historical Society.

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High Altitude Tips:
Safety Caution: If a skier, snowshoer or hiker is lost, contact Summit County Search and Rescue via 911. Hint: Rescue can be expensive. Buy a state fishing license; it gives  one free rescue from the back country.
Recreation User Tip: Temperatures can dip rapidly when the wind comes up and sun goes behind the clouds. Be sure to keep extra warm outerwear in your pack for winter recreation.
Seasonal Suggestion: Winter days provide a great set-up for sunburn due to the high altitude. The ultraviolet light can burn both skin and eyes. Make sure everyone in your party, especially children, wear and reapply sunblock. Be certain everyone, especially children, have high quality sunglasses.


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