One of my favorite rides in the Vail Valley is the Lost Lake Loop, which starts and finishes from downtown and links together a number of awesome trails on the north side of I70. The “destination” is Lost Lake, which is a beautiful, mountain lake, and a great place to stop for a snack. However, there is still a good amount of climbing to be done after reaching the lake.
There are a couple of different ways to link up this ride, which I’ll describe below. The basic idea is to climb up to Lost Lake, ride the Lost Lake Trail from east to west (counterclockwise), connect over to Buffehr Creek Trail, and use the North Trail to get back to where you started.
To start, there are two different options to get up to Lost Lake Rd. Both options utilize the Son of Middle Creek ride and involve a ~1,500 ft consistent climb. The first (and easier option) is to do the first half of the Son of Middle Creek ride as shown on the linked map by climbing Red Sand Stone Rd all the way up until you see a sign for Lost Lake Rd at 4.7 miles in. This is a dirt road with a fairly mellow grade. The second (and more difficult, but more interesting) option is to do the Son of Middle Creek ride “backwards” and climb up the Son of Middle Creek Trail to where it hits Lost Lake Rd. This is an awesome ~3 mile singletrack climb and FULLY rideable if you are on your game. This map shows both options.
Regardless of how you start, you will eventually hit Lost Lake Rd. Take a right on Lost Lake Rd and follow it until you hit Lost Lake Trail. This map shows the section of Lost Lake Rd. to Lost Lake Trail. There are a couple forks in the road before hitting Lost Lake Trail, so make sure you follow the map. You will be on this road for a little over 4 miles and climb ~700 feet before hitting the trail. I believe the rule of thumb is to always stay left at the forks.
After ~4 miles on Lost Lake Rd. you will hit a parking lot and trailhead for Lost Lake Trail. If you decided to climb up Red Sandstone Rd (and skip the Son of Middle Creek singletrack), this is where the fun begins. Lost Lake Trail is rocky and technical. It has some challenging climbs and some awesome descending. You will hit the lake at under 1 mile in on the trail. From there, it keeps climbing until the ~2 mile mark before descending for 2 miles all the way down to Red and White Road.
When you hit the road you will take a right and then an immediate left on Red and White Road. Stay on Red and White Road for approximately 1.5 miles until you hit Buffehr Creek Trail. On Buffehr Creek, you’ll descend through some awesome meadows and aspen glades before eventually hitting the North Trail. Bang a left on the North Trail (which is shown at the end of this ride) and make your way back into town. The left onto the North Trail is easy to miss. It’s not a big deal if you do, as Buffehr Creek Trail will just continue down to the road.
After your ride, be sure to check out Vendetta’s on Bridge Street or La Bottega (also downtown) for Italian. The pizza is great at both, but La Bottega has an awesome sandwich called the TED (thanksgiving everyday). If you are looking to save some money, hit La Cantina for the best inexpensive Mexican food in the Valley.