Let’s be honest, when you think of the magical town of Breckenridge in the winter, hiking might not be the first activity that comes to mind. With all of the snow that falls here you might be thinking, “How is it even possible?”
Snowshoeing is always an option (check out our recommendations for snowshoeing trails). But, with the right gear, and a good sense of which trails to choose, hiking in the winter can be a very enjoyable experience for people of all ages and fitness levels, and also a great way to stretch those legs after a couple of long days on the slopes.
Here are our recommendations for winter hiking (and snowshoeing) trails:
Sallie Barber Mine:
This is a great, beginner level winter hike with spectacular views of town, leading to a beautiful old mining site that sits above Breckenridge. The old mining road, starting from French Gulch right in Breckenridge, gently climbs 1.4 miles up to a stunning view of the Sally Barber mine. This trail is very well traveled in the winter and sees heavy use, so you can expect a packed trail during the winter months. This is a great hike for the whole family. Bring your dog along too!
The main trail that leads up from Carter Park is the gateway to an incredibly vast trail system that can lead you all over Breckenridge. This is a great location to start a hike of any distance, and has some great views along the way! From the park, you can access the Barney Ford Trail, Moonstone Trail, and even link all of this back with the Sally Barber Mine trail. You can weave in and out of the beautiful neighborhoods of Breckenridge, or work your way away from civilization and have the snowy trails all to yourself.
The main climb out of Carter Park is lung-busting at first, but at the top of the short climb you are treated with amazing views of the town, and relatively flat trails for the rest of your winter hike. MicroSpikes or other brands of traction control for your boots are recommended for this hike, as it can be steep at times. Make sure to get a map of the area, as there are a lot of trail intersections.
At the top of Ski Hill Road lies one of the easiest access, most beautiful trails for a nice winter hike in Breckenridge. Peaks Trail is an incredible out and back hike with minimal elevation gain that weaves in and out of the beautiful lodge pole pine forest at the base of Breckenridge Ski Resort. Like many of the others, this trail sees heavy usage and stays in great shape for a nice winter stroll. Go as far as you choose, get some great views, spend some quality time in the forest, and turn around and head back whenever you want.
Choosing the Right Gear:
To make your winter hiking experience in Breckenridge safe and enjoyable, there are a few pieces of gear that you’ll want to have:
Hiking Boots – As most people coming from a skiing background will know, happy feet means a happy person at the end of the day. The boots that you choose could make or break your experience on the trails. Choosing a waterproof boot with some insulation to keep your feet warm and dry are a must.
Layers Layers Layers! – With the dry, arid climate the Breckenridge has, and the rapid weather changes that can occur, you must be prepared for any sort of temperature or weather conditions. Make sure you pack plenty of extra clothing to keep yourself warm just in case! Its always smart to pack an extra pair of gloves, a spare hat, and some dry socks to cover all of your bases while you are hiking the amazing trails that Breck has to offer.
Yaktrax or Microspikes: The trails around Breckenridge see a lot of use in the winter months, making them hard packed and slick sometimes. Having some added traction on your boots is always a smart idea, and can make your hiking experience a lot easier. Specialty outdoor shops like Mountain Outfitters in Breckenridge will sell these kinds of traction systems that easily attach to your hiking boots, and will make hiking these packed trails seem effortless.
Besides having these few pieces of gear, always make sure to pack plenty of food and water for your journey. Staying well hydrated, and keeping up with your nutrition is very important while you’re out on the trails, especially at 9,600 feet.