This was our first time visiting Gore Creek Campground. We arrived on a Friday around 1 pm, during a nice rain shower. By the time we found our campsite, the rain had ended, and we were able to back into our spot with no difficulty. Our site was along the Gore Creek, but not so close that we could see it. But we were able to hear the rushing water with no problem.
Gore Creek Campground was very quiet and peaceful. The campground was full, but it did not feel crowded. There are three loops, two for tents/campers (nothing to large) and one for hike in camping. The hike in campsites were large with lots of room to spread out. I highly recommend them if you are tent camping. I only rated the campsite as 75% because there is no drinkable water located at the campground, contrary to what Reserve America website states. We had to go to West Vail (Conoco) to fill up our six gallon container.
Down the street from the campsite is Bighorn Park, which is also a dog park! This was perfect for Daisy—lots of grass and a pond full of fresh water for her to play in.
The first evening we headed to Piney Lake for some Milky Way pictures. The road was decent during the first half (FR700), the second half was full of potholes (FR701) but very doable if you have a car. Because of the Piney River Ranch, there was a lot of traffic on the road. There are also a lot of very large dispursed campsites along the way.
We made it to our location by sunset, and the light was beautiful. Unfortunately we did not do our homework before heading to the location. We were turned back by a sign that told us the area closed at SIX! We couldn’t believe it—and since we usually mind the rules we turned around to find another Milky Way view. We later learned that we could have walked in, and set up with no problem. Apparently the ranch rents the area, but the road and trails are open to all. Next time we will be sure to photograph the Milky Way in this beautiful area.
On our way out of the Piney Lake area we stop to enjoy the last of the daylight. Once we parked the Jeep we noticed a huge moose about 20 yards away. Na was able to capture some pictures before all of the light was gone. We also saw many deer along the road, and one of the largest bucks that I’ve ever seen in Colorado. I also spotted a large Great Horned Owl that flew over the dirt road up into a tree.
One of my favorite parts of our adventure to the Piney Lake area was listening to all of the Hermit Thrushes. There were so many, it was as if the mountains were in mourning with their haunting song.
Natasha was able to snap some night time photos from our camp. I love the way the trees frame the setting.
Saturday morning I woke up early and Daisy and I headed to Vail Pass Bike Path at the campground entrance. We walked along the bike path for an hour before breakfast and were able to watch the beginning riders from the Courage Classic come down the hill.
Late morning we headed back to the entrance of the campground and found the Gore Creek trail head. This is a great hike that follows the Gore Creek all the way up to Gore Lake. It is a busy trail, with lots of backpackers. The trail was muddy from all of the creeks that find their way down the mountain sides. The steep mountain sides kept the creek away from Daisy most of the time. She did enjoy the refreshing water whenever the terrain evened out. We turned around at the bridge, which is probably about 2 miles from our campsite (4 miles round trip). There are a lot of side trails and vistas to enjoy along the way.
Overall, Gore Creek was a great trail. Strenuous at times, but those parts are short, and usually even out to flatter terrain and a vista that you can enjoy before tackling the next incline.
Wildflowers spotted on the trail: Mountain Harebell Bellflowers, Monkshood, Fireweed, Scarlet Paintbrushes, Wild Roses, White Wild Geraniums, Cow Parsnip, Raspberries, Columbines, Mariposa Lili, Stawberries, Paintbrush, and so many more flowers who’s names I do not know!
On Sunday Vail has a farmers market, and it is extremely crowded! We picked up some fresh peaches and desert for later in the day. We also had lunch at Vendetta’s while overlooking the hustle and bustle of the farmers market. I must admit, Vail is a very dog friendly town. Most of the patios allow well behaved dogs to join you.
We found a path near the end of the campground that follows Gore Creek for quite awhile. We took our fly rods with us and scrambled down to the creek whenever the water looked good. We caught about a dozen Brook Trout from 4″ to 10″. We love fishing the small stream, you never know what you will catch!
One trail that we really wanted to hike, but didn’t get a chance to, was Booth Falls Trail. If you make it to Vail try this trip, I hear it is a great hike.
We will definitely be coming back to Gore Creek Campground. There is so much to do from the campsite alone: hiking, fly fishing, biking, wildlife viewing. What a great trip!
I was told there were some locals that walked through camp every day. I guess they walk through every campsite, too!
When: Early Summer 2014
Reservation: Gore Creek Campground, CO
Misc: level, NO WATER