July 14, 2015. My husband and I recently had a rare opportunity to enjoy a week in the mountains sans bambini. Our last interval of more than two days without children happened more than three years ago!! With almost a week to ourselves, we decided to head up to the Beaver Creek/Avon area of Colorado to relax, hike, read, explore the surrounding mountain towns and sample local microbrews. One day, Dave suggested we try a hike at Piney River Ranch, a resort situated in the Eagle’s Nest Wilderness and only accessed by driving up an 11 mile long bumpy unpaved road. With perfect sunny warm temps on our side, we headed to Vail Exit 176, turned up Red Sandstonre Road and followed it up to Lost Lake Road. After nearly an hour of winding and bouncing, we arrived at the parking lot of Piney River Ranch — a seemingly remote location buzzing with tourists just like us.
We parked just steps away from the entrance to the Ranch, jumped out and walked toward the quaint resort dotted by cabins, yurts, a gift shop/resturant and a few other small buildings. We were immediately impressed by the beautiful little lake rimmed by majestic mountains, blue skies, aspen covered foothills and clusters of colorful wildflowers dotting the grassy fields and meadows beyond After passing a little playground and a horse picturesquely lassoed to a ponderosa pine, we were drawn to the canoes tied to a little dock jutting out into the quiet waters. The $30/hr canoe rental made us think twice and we wondered whether we could bring up our own boats someday.
We then hiked up to the lodge headquarters to pick up a brochure and check out the accomodations. After popping our heads into the adjoining dining hall with ribs posted as the dinner special, we reviewed the map and set out on the seemingly flat dirt path known as the Upper Piney River Trail. The narrow path quickly left the resort property and headed out toward the tops of the Gore Mountain Range in the distance. We heard that there is a waterfall about two miles out and headed in that direction. Along the way, the plethora of blooming wildflowers was amazing and pause for much photo taking. I cannot imagine a more beautiful mountain hike or a more perfect day to do it.
After returning from an hour and a half on the trail, we decided to have lunch at the rustic pine resort lodge. For such a remote location, the place was filled with other hikers, travelers and large family groups — quite fun to observe while waiting for the delicious burger we split. The summer breezes blowing through the open windows and double deck doors punctuated by the laughter of children and their families enhanced our dining experience. We both thought about how awesome it would be to vacation up here with our children one day What fun we would have boating on the lake, fishing, hiking and looking at the stars. After lunch, we relaxed in a set of Adirondeck chairs overlooking the peaceful lake shores and the mountain vistas. What a great day!!!