Big smiles here from Vail, Colorado. I’ve recently participated in a local tradition that involves skiing off of Vail Mountain and into the nearby town of Minturn. The Minturn Mile, or simply “The Mile” as locals call it, conveniently ends a short walk from the Minturn Saloon, the perfect spot for an après-ski beverage. Last weekend, it snowed eight inches on Saturday, so my new ski buddy Betsy (below) and I had a great time dropping into the first bowl of fresh powder. There is no official start to The Mile, as it’s technically “out of bounds,” but if you’re on Vail Mountain and you ski in the direction of a run called Lost Boy, you can just keep going straight, and you’ll hit a roped gate. Slide right on through. I’ve also entered The Mile by going towards Vail’s Sun Down Bowl and hiking a bit up a ridge to start by cutting under a rope and dropping down into some nice, steep trees.
After getting through the first steep bowl, The Mile meanders through a gully interspersed with some friendly trees. Aspens flank one side of the mountain, evergreens the other. I’ve started loving the glades around here, and the trees add variety to this route that is at times tight and at others wide-open.
Great views such as this one are the reward for taking the road less traveled:
How to know if you’re ready to ski The Mile? I’d say if you can comfortably ski any of Vail’s in-bounds bowls and a tight, bumpy gully (such as Cady’s Café), you’ll probably do all right. The Mile is more enjoyable for skiers, I think, because it flattens out for stretches, and it can be pretty bumpy in spots.
The Mile ends in a neighborhood on the town’s north end, and the Minturn Saloon is about a ten minute walk away. It’s probably a good idea to go with someone who knows the way for the first time, but it’s pretty much a no-brainer once you’re in the right gully. The only way to get out is to hike up the side…or make it all the way to the saloon.