Hiking Vista Ridge Trail
This trail at the top of Granby Ranch ski mountain, is an easy path that winds through the forest with a number of opportunities for breath taking vistas. When I hiked this trail I was also treated to many wildflowers. This trail is rated as “easy” and I agree with that rating. There are a couple of uphill/downhill challenges, but nothing too difficult. For the most part it is a smooth trail, but there are some rocky spots. Nothing that will twist an ankle though.
Getting to the trail head is as simple as riding the Quick Draw Express chairlift to the top. The ride up and back down was only $10.00. Once at the top just walk
off the lift and go straight. Make a quick stop at the trail map to get familiar with where you are going. The trails are well marked, but it is always smart to be prepared. Better yet, grab a map before you head up on the lift.
Your first stop is a wonderful view of Arapaho National Park.
It is hard to turn away from such a vista, but this is just the beginning of the trail. From here just follow the trail markers and follow Vista Ridge Trail. Stay on the single track to wind through the forest. There are plenty of photo opportunities to be had on this trail. Look for a wide variety of wild flowers including Colorado’s State Flower; the columbine.
You can branch off of Vista Ridge at any point and hike down to the base, or do an out-and-back hike. I suggest branching off at Nature’s Way if you are hiking to the base which will cut off to the right before you reach the first kiosk. If you do the out-and-back you will find two kiosks along the trail that you can take a look at the map. The second kiosk is about one and a half miles from the top of the lift. This is a good point to turn around and head back.
Hiking around Granby Ranch can be a little tricky due to the fact that most of the trails are shared with mountain bikes. If you decide to do Vista Ridge Trail be on the look out. The bikers are usually considerate of their two footed trail mates, but keep your eyes and ears peeled for the few that are having too much fun. I was lucky in that I only came across a couple of bicyclists and a few hikers. Otherwise I spent the entire hike walking, taking pictures, and listening to the birds.
Granby Ranch is 86 miles from Denver, Colorado. Head west on I-70 and exit at Colorado Hwy 40 toward Empire/Winter Park. Before you drop down into Winter Park, make a stop at Berthoud Pass to take a break. It’s worth it. After passing through Winter Park, Fraser, and Tabernash, look for Granby Ranch a couple of miles before you get into the town of Granby (on the right). The base is only a mile from the highway.