Two Elk #2005

The Two Elk trail starts and/or ends at Forest Road 762 near Minturn and the Vail Pass / Tenmile Canyon National Recreation Trail in East Vail. This trail is popular as a one-way "shuttle hike" where people will leave a car at one end and drive a second car to their trailhead.

From the east end, it travels through the cool shady Timber Creek Canyon, climbs a steep section to the Two Elk Pass summit with views of the Gore Range, Sawatch Range, and Vail's Back Bowls, and descends slowly through meadows and the valley between Vail’s Back Bowls and Blue Sky Basin Bowls finally emerging from the last section of cool aspen-pine forest to the west trailhead.

View printable Recreation Quicksheets for this trail which are complete with directions, a map, details, and other information about this trail. Review a  hiking quicksheet  or a mountain biking quicksheet.

At a Glance

Current Conditions: Annual closure from May 6 - June 30 for elk calving and migration.
Usage: Light
Restrictions: The portion of Two Elk Trail that travels through Vail's Back Bowls is closed annually from May 6 - July 30. Please observe these closures out of respect for resource protection and wildlife calving, feeding, and migration needs.
Closest Towns: Minturn, CO; Vail, CO
Operated By: Forest Service
Information Center: Eagle-Holy Cross Ranger District, (970) 827-5715

General Information


East trailead: Travel east on I-70 to exit 180 for East Vail. Turn right and travel 2.3 miles east on the south frontage road, passing under the interstate and past the Gore Creek Campground. Park just beyond at the road closure gate and walk 1.8 miles up the old Vail Pass road, today’s recreation path, to the Two Elk trailhead on the right.

West Trailhead: Travel west on I-70 to exit 171 for Minturn, Leadville, and Hwy 24. Turn right and travel south 2.7 miles and into Minturn to Cemetery Bridge. Turn left, cross the bridge and tracks, then proceed south past the cemetery. Go right at the first fork and left at the second fork. Follow this somewhat rough dirt road about 1.8 miles and park at the trailhead at the end.

Recreation Map

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  Area/Length : 
11 miles

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