Located 12 miles outside of Vail, Piney Lake is a favorite destination for anglers, hikers, horseback riders, and outdoor enthusiasts alike. Piney Lake, situated on 910 acres of White River National Forest, is abundant with wildlife and is surrounded by gorgeous vistas of the Gore Range. This high-altitude lake, sitting right below 9,400 ft., is home to several species of trout including Rainbow, Cutthroat, Browns, and Brookies. Note that the lake is catch and release only. For a cost, the nearby Piney River Ranch offers canoe, stand-up paddleboard, and fishing rod rentals.

Pro Tips

  • Moose are often spotted near Piney Lake. Keep your cameras close but remember to keep your distance! Moose can be very aggressive. Other wildlife commonly seen in the area includes elk, deer, osprey, and eagles.
  • Reaching the lake does require about 45 minutes (~10 miles) of dirt road driving. The road conditions are fair and most two-wheel drive should be able to handle the drive just fine.
  • Piney River Ranch sits close to and operates the Piney Lake area. Check them out for recreation activities like canoeing, stand-up paddle boarding, hiking, horseback riding, and more. Canoe and paddleboard rentals start at $30/hour. Private fishing guides are also available through their website.
  • Recommended season(s): Late June to early October. 

    —Alyssa Wendt


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