Whether it’s the crystal clear alpine lakes, the blooming wildflowers in the high alpine, or the peace and serenity of the beautiful Rocky Mountains, hiking in Breckenridge truly is an amazing experience that’s a good fit for just about everyone. Here are a few favorite hikes that will get you to places beyond imagination.
This stunning alpine hike starts just south of the Town of Breckenridge, and leads up to a stunning mountain pass in between Peaks 8 and 9 on Breckenridge Ski Resort. Park along Spruce Creek Road just south of Breckenridge, where the Wheeler Trail will intersect around 1.2 miles up the road from the Mohawk Lakes Trailhead. Once on the Wheeler Trail, you’ll start climbing relatively quickly through the lower trees, with amazing views of town around ¾ of a mile in. At a little over a mile up, the trail steepens and the trees clear as you head up towards the ridge on Peak 10. Be sure to take in the views of Crystal Lake, and the 14,000 foot giant, Quandary Mountain on the way up this section. After reaching the ridge, the trail flattens and you can catch your breath while admiring the incredibly beautiful scenery of the Tenmile Range. One last push of 200 vertical feet will bring you up to the summit of the pass where you’ll feel as if you’re on top of the world. Turn around and enjoy the effortlessness of hiking downhill back to the car.
Mt Baldy Road and the Iowa Mill
Just across the valley from Breckenridge Ski Resort sits a mountain that every single person in town sees, but might not know much about. It’s appropriately named Bald Mountain or “Baldy” as locals call it, since it rarely has any snow on it, even in the winter. This hike is considered very difficult if you hike from the trailhead near town to the summit. However, you can tailor the hiking to your liking and make it as long or as short of an adventure as you choose. Take Boreas Pass road up from town and turn left on “Baldy Road,” about two miles up. Follow Baldy Road for another 1.4 miles until you reach the trailhead parking on the right hand side. From the trailhead parking, hike up Mt Baldy road which turns to a dirt road and from there, begin your hike. Head up as far as you want before turning back. At around 1.3 miles up the road you will come to the Iowa Mill, an old mining mill that used to cary ore from the Carbonate mine found at around 12,400 feet on the ridge of Bald Mountain. Continue along the road as it climbs towards the Carbonate mine for as long as you want to hike! The road terminates at around 12,500 feet where you can continue to the summit of Bald Mountain at 13,684 feet if you are feeling ambitious.
It’s hard not to mention Mohawk Lakes when talking about great hiking in Breckenridge. This hike is an absolute must for anyone visiting the area. Drive up Spruce Creek Road until reaching the Mohawk Lakes Trailhead at around 1.5 miles. The hike is 8 miles and around 1800 vertical feet of gain from this trailhead, making for a really gradual hike through all sorts of terrain and scenery. The first part of the hike weaves in and out of the beautiful forest, eventually making its way up an amazing valley with incredible views. At around 3 miles in, the trail steepens as it climbs its way up a very impressive headwall, passing lots of old mining equipment, as well as an old mining cabin along the way. Be sure to check out the incredible waterfall on the way up to the lower lake! Upon reaching the first alpine lake, the trail continues further up valley, heading to Upper Mohawk Lake, and even further into the back of the valley where you can find lots more lakes, including the Pacific Tarn, one of the highest lakes in the United States at 13,400 feet! If you haven’t been up to Mohawk lakes yet, put this on your priority list, as you will not be disappointed!
All of the hikes listed in this article lead out into the alpine and above treeline. Be sure to check the forecast before you head out, start early, and make sure you are off the mountain before any afternoon thunderstorms start to develop! Always carry plenty of food and water for your journey, and always tell someone where you are going! Safety is everything in the mountains, and the more prepared you are, the more enjoyable your experience will be! Having a map of the area you are hiking can be a big help as well. Visit one of Breckenridge’s local gear shops like Mountain Outfitters for maps and information on trails and conditions!
Hope to see you out there on the trails!