Scenic views, cascading waterfalls, wildlife and a good ole snowball fight can be experienced on the McCullough Gulch trail. This trail is great for the entire family to enjoy.
Waterfalls and scenery:
As you get further from the parking lot, you’ll hear the rush of nearby waterfalls, which cascade from the upper lake in a series of smaller falls. Be sure to explore trail splits near the top to catch different views of the tumbling water. At the top by the lake, look for Quandary Peak (14,265) to the south and Pacific Peak (13,950) to the north. Take some time to explore around the high alpine lake, but remember to stay on existing trails.
Most guidebooks rate this hike as moderate, but since it starts above 11,000 feet and has a steep grade, don’t be afraid to take your time and stop for breaks – it’s a good opportunity to look back and take in the expansive valley views below. The short distance makes it popular with a wide range of abilities. The trail is 2.6 miles roundtrip with around 800 feet of elevation gain (it is steep in parts)
Keep an eye out for moose, deer, porcupine and other wildlife in the area. Know what to do if you encounter wildlife on the trails. Moose and bears can be very dangerous animals. Enjoy their beauty from afar. Check out the fresh moose tracks in the video below.
Best times to hike and weather:
Most people hike McCullough Gulch from July through mid-September, though it’s a popular location for ski touring in winter and spring. Like all high country hikes, start early for the best chance of good weather, and of course, seek shelter from thunder and lightning. Recent light morning rain without thunder and lightning has made for gushing waterfalls and vibrant wildflowers. Bring rain gear to stay dry and comfortable.
There are two trailheads you can use to access McCullough Gulch. The newer, lower access parking lot is located about 7 miles south of Breckenridge, on the right side of highway 9 opposite the Skier’s Edge lodge. From here you can access a beautiful woods trail, turning into the old road that leads up into McCullough Gulch following the rock-strewn stream. Starting here makes the hike about twice as long, being that it starts 1.5 miles down the mountain from the upper access. Park at the end of County Road 851, and you can access the McCullough Gulch falls with just a 1.3 mile hike. Drive south out of Breckenridge, a couple switchbacks up Hoosier Pass (7.9 mi), and take a right on Blue Lakes Road (CR 850), and another right on CR 851. This hike is pretty high in elevation, starting at about 11,000′, so the snow usually clears sometime in July.
There are plenty of beautiful trails around Breckenridge. Read more about trails accessed right from downtown, where to go for more waterfall hikes around Breckenridge or trails to view the wildflowers. Looking for a hike to explore some of Breckenridge’s rich history? We suggest the Reiling Dredge.