11 Best Hikes in Breckenridge, CO
Breckenridge, Colorado (or "Breck" to the locals) is home to some of the country's most epic hiking trails, ranging from gentle walks around reservoirs to tackling some of the tallest peaks in the Colorado Rockies.
Breckenridge is surrounded by five massive peaks, which make it one of the best places in the country to ski. But you don't have to strap on skis or a snowboard in order to make the most of Breck's fabulous trails. You can find brag-worthy climbs and epic views along the hundreds of hiking trails in and around Breckenridge. It doesn't hurt that Breckenridge is surrounded by the White River National Forest — a protected area of nearly 2.3 million acres.
To get to the best hikes in Breckenridge, all you really need is a car. Many of the trailheads are a short drive from downtown. Depending on the time of day, parking is available, and from there you're off and running.
Keep in mind, however, that hiking, especially in the summer, is one of the top things to do in Breckenridge, so plan accordingly. You may need to be there on a weekday, or be willing to start early in the morning in order to park close enough to your trailhead.
Regardless, whether it's a leisurely dirt road or a craggy summit, Breckenridge has a variety of hiking options for all hikers. Save yourself some time with our list of the top hikes in Breckenridge.
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1. Hoosier Pass Loop
A quick drive up out of Breckenridge will take you to one of the many points along the Continental Divide. Here is a trailhead that launches a variety of popular trails in the Breckenridge area.
The Hoosier Pass Loop is a perfect trail to get acclimated to the elevation in Breckenridge. Remember — the town sits at nearly 10,000 feet, but the trailhead starts at 11,542 feet. Not far into the hike, you'll find yourself above the tree line, so brace yourself for fabulous views of the mountains.
The elevation gain along the 2.8-mile loop is less than 700 feet and along the way, you'll pass wonderful wildflowers (and probably plenty of other people who are also new in town). Keep in mind that the trail is in its best condition from May through October.
2. Blue Lakes Trail
One of the easier hikes in Breckenridge rewards with some of the best views. The Blue Lakes Trail is a one-mile out-and-back trail that opens up to stunning views of lakes, towering peaks, and maybe even a mountain goat (or two).
Just a 20-minute drive out of Breckenridge, down a dusty mountain road, leads to the trailhead for Blue Lakes. Bear in mind that a four-wheel drive car is recommended for the dirt road.
The trail itself is entirely made of gravel, with an elevation gain of 108 feet, so this is a trail that is really suited for everyone. Experienced hikers will consider it more of a walk. But the views are nothing short of spectacular.
Save this trail for a weekday or later in the afternoon, as the parking lot tends to fill up quickly. It is one of the most popular hikes in Breckenridge because it makes alpine vistas accessible to everyone.
3. McCullough Gulch
Just a quick drive out of Breckenridge puts you in the heart of stunning Rocky Mountain wilderness. Here, you'll find McCullough Gulch, one of the more popular hikes for locals. It also happens to be one of the more challenging hikes in the area.
But those who attempt the 6.4-mile out-and-back trail are rewarded with views of mountains, waterfalls, lakes, and wildflowers. The elevation gain is just over 1,600 feet, but it's a gradual incline peppered with a few more challenging sections.
The first landmark you'll come to is White Falls, which is down a short separate trail. From the falls, you'll have a great view of Quandary Peak. After another climb, you open up to Upper Blue Reservoir. After the reservoir, things get kicked up a notch.
You'll start the climb towards the Upper Lakes, and while it's a huff-and-puff situation, the views of the mountains and into the gulch are nothing short of breathtaking — perhaps literally.
Note that the parking here is by reservation. The other option is to take the shuttle from a different parking lot farther down the road.
4. Bakers Tank Trail
What’s truly splendid about Bakers Tank Trail is how deep it leads you into the forest. You’ll feel like the only person for miles along this six-mile out-and-back trail (save for a mountain biker or two, of course).
The moderate trail has an elevation gain of 882 feet as you wind your way deep into the lush, evergreen thicket along the Boreas Pass. Tip: If you're interested in trail running, this is an excellent spot to do that. It's also a popular spot for mountain biking, as well. Consider the hike in fall when the aspen trees are bright gold.
The trail is named Baker's Tank for an actual tank where steam locomotives would take on water while navigating the extreme mountain grades found in this part of the country.
To reach the trailhead, drive out of town up Boreas Pass Road and park where the pavement turns to dirt.
5. Sawmill Reservoir
One of Breckenridge's greatest assets is the Sawmill Reservoir. The gorgeous 10-acre lake sits at nearly 10,000 feet above sea level, surrounded entirely by White River National Forest.
While the reservoir is accessible by car, one of the most popular ways to get here and view the reservoir is a lovely 1.3-mile loop hike. The hike goes all the way around the reservoir to provide the most scenic views from all angles.
Along the way up to the reservoir, the hike follows a lovely little creek. The trail does meander past several homes, but once you get to the lake, the residences taper off, and you'll be right back in nature.
Brace yourself for wildlife — perhaps even a moose. Wildflowers are scattered all along the trail and up near the reservoir, as well.
6. Spruce Creek Trail
It may be one of the most popular hikes in Breckenridge, but it is also one of its most challenging and beautiful. The 8.4-mile out-and-back Spruce Creek Trail to Mohawk Lakes Trail has an elevation gain of more than 2,100 feet and opens up to some of the most stunning views in Colorado.
The trailhead for the Spruce Creek Trail starts near the Blue River, and you'll have a sweeping view over the wild nature of Breckenridge. Follow the creek up the mountain, which gains considerable elevation for the first mile or so. When you reach the crossing of Wheeler Trail, continue straight for Mohawk Lakes Trail.
The elevation will get more intense from here as you make your way up to Mohawk Lakes. Lower Mohawk Lake leads to the Continental Falls before opening up to Upper Mohawk Lake. (You'll find more lakes past Upper Mohawk, as well, if you have the energy to keep going.)
Bear in mind that this is a challenging (and popular) trail, but it is one of the most rewarding. During high season, parking will be limited, so it's best to go during the week or very early in the morning/late in the afternoon.
7. B&B to Reiling Dredge to Minnie Mine
When you tackle this trail (or trails, rather), keep in mind that you're stepping back through decades of Breck history.
At the end of the 19th century, hydraulic mining was on the rise in the form of boats that scoured river beds looking for gold. Of the dredge boats that dug up the river beds around Breckenridge, one can still be seen today — the Reiling Dredge. Hiking the B&B Trail will take you right along to the Reiling Dredge all the way to the Minnie Mines.
The trail is a moderate three-mile loop with an elevation gain of just over 400 feet. It is mostly a hiking trail — and a popular one, at that. Be sure to get there early in order to snag a parking space.
8. Burro Trail
Burro Trail is one of Breckenridge's best and most popular moderate hikes. It begins at the base of Peak 9, not far from the Quicksilver chairlift. As you ascend the trail, you follow a creek that weaves its way through thick pine forests and across beautiful meadows to link up with Spruce Creek Trail.
The Burro Trail is an eight-mile out-and-back hike with an elevation gain of 1,653 feet. As you make your way from Burro Trail to Spruce Creek Trail, keep your eyes peeled for Francie's Cabin, a popular hiking shelter with capacity for 20 and a wood-burning sauna.
The majority of the hike is at an incline, but the journey is simply beautiful. If you hit Francie's Cabin and want to keep going, you can continue to Lower Crystal Lake, which is another spectacular spot.
9. Crystal Lake Trail
Get deep into the heart of the White River National Forest along this 8.4-mile out-and-back trail. One of the most popular hikes in Breckenridge, this challenging climb gains an elevation of 2,568 feet.
Expect crowds if you're headed out on a weekend. Weekdays tend to be much quieter, and the parking situation is definitely easier. But you'll find that this particular trail is so popular for a reason.
The route is simply gorgeous as you wind your way up to Upper Crystal Lake. You can hike to Lower Crystal Lake, but it's also popular to drive there if you have a 4WD vehicle. Park at Lower Crystal Lake and begin the hike up. It is definitely not a drive suitable for 2WD vehicles.
The second half of the hike is definitely cliffy and rocky, so you'll want good shoes and a solid comfort level with heights. Upper Crystal Lake feels completely cut off from the rest of the world, surrounded by towering slate-colored mountains. Keep your eyes peeled for mountain goats and marmots on your way in.
10. Boreas Pass
The Boreas Pass Trail (named for the famous Boreas Pass that connects Breckenridge with Como) is a 2.5-mile loop trail that starts not far from downtown Breck.
Heading up the Boreas Pass Road, the paved path turns to dirt, and it is a six mile drive up to the summit of Boreas Pass. Keep in mind that the dirt road is closed during winter.
From the summit of Boreas Pass, the hike heads towards the ridge area between Boreas Mountain and Bald Mountain. The hike itself is moderate, but be on the lookout for loose rocks. You will gain 1,700 feet in elevation if you start from the Boreas Pass Summit.
If it's winter or early spring, the hike can still be completed, but you'll have to start from the road closure gate where the dirt road begins. This makes the hike 15 miles with an elevation gain of 3,000 feet. Plus, it will be winter, so additional layers and gear will likely be required.
Whenever you tackle the hike, though, you'll be rewarded with views of Boreas Mountain.
11. Cucumber Gulch Trail
For something a little easier, but no shortage of views, the Cucumber Gulch Trail is a 2.7-mile out-and-back trail in a wildlife preserve. The Cucumber Gulch Wildlife Preserve contains 52 acres of wetlands and provides a habitat for the local fauna, like moose, elk, deer, mountain lion, and more than 47 species of birds.
The trail is fairly easy, with an elevation gain of less than 300 feet. During ski season, the trail becomes part of the Breckenridge Nordic Center, meaning it's very popular for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
In the summer, feast your eyes on the blanket of wildflowers that carpets the valley. The mountains looming in the distance are certainly a nice touch. And, of course, you are likely to see some amazing wildlife along the way.
Keep in mind that the trail closes between May 1 until the Monday after July 4 every year, so if your travels take you to Breckenridge in May or June, you may have to skip this particular trail.