One of our favorite summertime things to do in Breckenridge was hiking. In the winter, you can still visit many of the trails with snowshoes. There are tons of places to go, but here are our favorite five Breckenridge hikes.
Iowa Mine Trail
One of my favorite Breckenridge hiking trails with kids was the Iowa Mine Trail because it had old mining equipment along the way that kept the little one interested and moving. In the summer it is an easy 1.5-mile loop. We revisited that same hike in the winter, only with snowshoes and a guide from the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance.
Rick is a retired plant manager from New Jersey, and a history buff. He told us stories of the area and the miners that worked the land, and let us into a miner’s boarding house, showing us how the men lived before skiing was even a thought.
He also reminded me of what I adore about Breckenridge, the laid back vibe. Rick forgot the waivers we needed to sign, so he just pulled out a piece of paper and had us sign it. I had to laugh thinking of all the lawyers I know in Atlanta who would have probably made him go back and get ‘official’ waivers with all the legal mumbo jumbo.
After the hike, he gave us a ride back to our condo. A day later we ran into each other in the lift line and had a nice chat heading to the top. We only just met, but it felt like we were old friends.
McCollough Gulch Trail
The trailhead for this hike is off County Road 851. This was my oldest’s favorite hikes near Breckenridge was a bit longer and more strenuous 2.8 miles out and back hike on the McCollough Gulch Trail. According to him, all hikes from here on out will be compared to this one that leads past sculpted mountains to a glacier alpine lake, waterfall, and beautiful views.
We saw marmots and pikas within the rocks (but no mountain goats) and what we determined was an active miners cabin along the route.
The pictures of this hike don’t do it justice. The mountains all around made you feel small and insignificant and coming upon the waterfalls and lake was like discovering a paradise lost. My middle son took more than 100 pictures wearing out the battery in my iPhone. This is one hike we are determined to revisit again. Bring water though, this is a high altitude hike.
Local Tip – this hike gets busy on the weekends, try to build it into your itinerary for mid-week.
Sawmill Creek Trail
We did several hikes while we were in Breckenridge. Some were self-guided, and others were guided hikes, like the Sawmill Creek Trail through the Town of Breckenridge. There are several groups that do guided hikes and each has their own angle. We felt this one through the Town was one of the best hikes in Breckenridge.
The Town of Breckenridge focuses on flora and fauna. Our leaders were very knowledgeable about the area and we learned several new plants including fireweed, a pretty purple flower that loves the disruption in the soil. It’s the first to bloom after fire – hence the name.
We also learned how to tell the difference between spruce, pines and fir trees. Our guide, a retired science teacher, asked us to “shake hands with the trees.” The “friendly” fir is soft and you can’t roll the needles. The “spikey” spruce’s needles roll. The pine tree needles come in pairs. More than five years later, my boys still comment on the ‘friendly fir.’
If you’d rather go it on your own, pick up a trail map from the Breckenridge welcome center. You’ll find the trailhead for this hike by going toward the Snowflake Lift at the Ski Resort, near the intersection of Four O’Clock Road and Kings Crown Road.
This trail used to be a railroad line, although I don’t see how they could get a rail car through the pass in winter. As it is, the trail is closed to road traffic in winter and becomes a back-country ski destination.
Boreas Pass is a great family hike as you can drive up to the ranger station for great views and hike as high as you like. The pass sits along the Continental Divide. We waited out a storm before our hike and when we got out of the car, my son watched the puddles running both east and west. Pretty cool. In order to get the trains through in winter, drift fences were built along the track to keep the snow away.
You can still see the tree stumps from the trees they cut to make the fence. It looks like the Oncler came through cutting Truffela trees. I fully expected to see the Lorax pop out of the many trunks dotting the landscape. It is easy to see the tree line from here too. This is an easy to moderate hike that is 6.6 miles, but you can drive most of it.
Gold Run Trail (Preston Ghost Town)
The problem with Colorado hiking trails is there are several spurs and it’s hard to stay on the intended path, and that’s if you can find the trail head. This hike can take you from the trailhead into Breckenridge, or you can circle back to the parking lot. We opted to be safe and go on a guided hike with the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance.
Not only did we hear great historical information about the mines and the Preston Mill Ghost Town, but we had a delicious lunch and didn’t have to worry at all whether we were on the right trail or not. My kind of hike.
The 10.5-mile trail starts as a jeep trail and is also a favorite for mountain bikers. However, there is plenty of room for hikers as well and it’s fun to explore the mill and town remains.
Trails We’ve Yet to Try
Mohawk Lakes Trail
We did not do this popular moderately demanding hike off Spruce Creek road that leads through pine and aspen forest, along a mountain stream, to a beautiful waterfall spilling over granite slabs. However, now that we know about it, it’s on our list for next time.
Local Tip: Best to do mid-week, this trail is popular on the weekends.
Blue Lakes Road Trail
This is another trail we did not do, but hear good things. The Blue Lakes Trail is a 1 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Breck that is an easy walk for all levels.
Quandary Peak is the highest summit of the Tenmile Range in the Rocky Mountains of North America. This trail is about 6 miles south of downtown Breckenridge in the White River National Forest.
Hoosier Pass Loop
This is a 3 miles roundtrip hike with an elevation gain of 180 feet and it’s easy to find as the trailhead starts by the parking area. Of course, as with all Breckenridge hikes, you’ll be rewarded with amazing views.