Colorado for Fido
"No dogs allowed" is a sign every devoted canine owner knows too well. The great outdoors seems to be one of the few places you and your pet can roam free, but even there it's often hard to be sure where you can and can't go. In an effort to alleviate that uncertainty, GORP brings you"Outdoors With Your Dog in Vail and Aspen," a guide to the many dog-friendly recreation options that await the active pet owner and the active pet in and around these famous resort towns.
Situated smack-dab in the middle of the mountains, Vail and Leadville offer the avid outdoor canine lots of trail mileage to sniff out. The more refined dog might prefer Vail, with its faux-Tyrolian decor and upscale boutiquesand where the arm that reaches out to pet him is likely to be sporting a Rolex. The dog with an interest in Colorado's past will relish a visit to Leadville, whose ties to its mining roots are still strong. About the only place your dog won't enjoy is Beaver Creek Resortbecause he can't. Dogs are not allowed anywhere in Beaver Creek unless they belong to property owners at the resort. Rumor has it that even Olympic gold medalist Picabo Street was deterred when she tried to bring her pooch along.
In Vail, dogs must be on a leash in Vail Village, Lionshead, and West Vail (specifically, the neighborhood around the Safeway); on any bike path; and in all public parks. Anywhere else in the city limits, as well as in unincorporated areas of Eagle County, dogs can be under voice control as long as they're within ten feet of their owners. In Leadville, a leash law is in effect within the town and in Lake County. There's also a law against public tethering, meaning you can't tie up your dog in front of a store or restaurant, for example, and leave him unattended, even for a few moments.
Cycling for Canines
The Douglass City/Hagerman Tunnel trip and Turquoise Lake Trail outside of Leadville are both great bike rides that dogs also will enjoy. The 7-mile round-trip Meadow Mountain Trail near Minturn follows an old road to a former cowboy cabin at the top. And you can bring Fido to investigate the trails on Vail Mountain (though with dog in tow, you won't be able to take the gondola up).
Piney Creek Nordic Center: Located at the base of Ski Cooper, northwest of Leadville, the nordic center has 25 kilometers of trails for skiing and snowshoeing. And your dog is welcome to accompany you on all of them! You'll have to purchase a trail pass; Fido is free.
As for backcountry trails, there's National Forest land aplenty where you can ski or snowshoe with a canine companion. A trail system begins on the south side of Tennessee Pass; the Powder Hound Loop would be especially appropriate. Pick up a Lake County ski map at the Leadville Ranger District. Note that the trails beginning at the Leadville Fish Hatchery are not really appropriate for dog-skiing, as they enter Wilderness, where leash rules apply. The Vail Pass area keeps getting busier and busier, with skiers and snowmobilers alike. Instead, bring your dog to one of the unplowed Forest Service roads off Highway 24 south of Minturn, such as the Tigiwon Road (Forest Rd. 707) or No Name Road (Forest Rd. 705).
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication