Maryann Gaug will speak about her latest book, “Best Easy Day Hikes Vail,” at an author event at The Next Page bookstore in Frisco today.
The book includes 20 hikes — eight in Summit County and 12 in Eagle County — that range from easy to more challenging, including a few that are Americans With Disabilities Act-accessible for those with physical handicaps. Gaug will sign copies of “Best Easy Day Hikes Vail,” as well as her other three Falcon Guides, “Hiking Colorado” (Third Edition), “Best Day Hikes near Denver and Boulder” and “Hiking Colorado’s Summit County Area.”
“It’s a fun little book,” Gaug said “It’s not a fancy book but just a basic book to go on some nice hikes in Summit and Eagle counties. … It’s an inexpensive, lightweight hiking guide.”
People are always asking Gaug about her favorite hikes from the books she’s written, but she said it’s a hard question to answer. Each hike has its own personality.
“When the wildflowers are blooming, you can’t beat Shrine Ridge,” she said. “The Vail side seems to be lusher, in a way, but on all of the trails, the environment is constantly changing — high up in open meadow, then a big thicket of trees or sometimes an aspen grove with all the wonderful things that grow in an aspen forest, or you might be going along a creek for a little ways.”
On the Summit County side of the pass, the X10U8 and B&B loop allows hikers to view a bit of the area’s mining history, Gaug said.
“In the fall, the aspen up there are just fabulous,” she said. “That’s a really cool hike that’s different; not as much a scenery hike, more of a historical hike. The trail is nice; they’ve done a good job maintaining and building it and using old mining roads.”
Of the ADA-accessible trails, Gaug said Julia’s Deck is high on her list.
“It’s at the top of Shrine Pass a little bit down, and it’s 0.4 mile out to the deck,” she said. “It has a little bit of a hill in it. There’s this nice view of Mount of the Holy Cross.”
About the author
Gaug was born in Denver and got the hiking bug early in her life from family picnics up Boulder Canyon.
“Sometimes we’d go up to Rocky Flats and I’d see trails, and somehow I just started dragging my parents along, going for little walks,” she said.
She went on to attend Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash., where she began backpacking and skiing.
“When I was in college, I was actually in the honors program and one of the honors classes was backpacking or hiking; man, did I jump on that one,” she said. “But I missed Colorado and came back. I joined the Colorado Mountain Club, the Boulder group, and I took their basic mountaineering school, some rock climbing, some snow climbing and this that and the other thing.”
Gaug got her master’s in computer science from the University of Colorado and worked at Rocky Flats for 20 years before moving to the mountains and joining Rocky Mountain Outdoor Writers and Photographers at the prompting of a friend. At a conference in Tuscon, Ariz., she got a lead on a company that was looking for hiking authors, followed up and started writing hiking guides, first for Beachway Press, then for Falcon Guides. Now, she writes about the mountains and canyons that are so dear to her heart.
“As you hike around the beautiful Vail region, capture part of nature’s spirit and hold it close to your own,” she writes in the introduction to “Best Easy Day Hikes Vail.” “Leave a piece of your spirit, as well, so that no matter where you travel or live, the peace and beauty of this wild country will remain with you forever.”