Boreas Pass

OutAndBack • 7.2 mi • 1140 ft

Boreas Pass was originally built as a wagon train road and was later used as the route for the nation’s highest elevation, narrow-gauge railroad. From 1872 to 1938, a host of specially designed locomotives clanked along the tracks, handled the high altitudes, and ascended high grades and tight curves. In its time the railroad provided one of the most important means of transportation across the Continental Divide. Today the remnants of the route provide winter enthusiasts with great cross-country skiing and snowshoeing opportunities. In this best of all worlds, you’ll experience the joy of skiing and snowshoeing into and out of glade after glade of spruce, aspen, and fir trees. You’ll also get an opportunity to traverse along a south-facing sunny route that follows the railroad grade and offers a gentle, continuous climb. This route is ideal if you are a beginning snowshoer or cross-country skier. Two huts have been opened for snowshoers and skiers at the top of the pass. The Section House is named in honor of the railroad workers who took care of this section of track, and Ken’s Cabin is named for Ken Graff, who was killed in an avalanche near Breckenridge in 1995. Ken’s Cabin was built in the 1860s, the Section House in 1882, and both buildings were restored between 1992 and 1997 by the Summit Huts Association. The Section House is a 2,000-square-foot, two-story hewn log structure that can accommodate up to twelve skiers. Ken’s Cabin is much smaller and sleeps two. Both cabins offer photovoltaic electricity, propane stoves, firewood, and all the usual hut amenities. Water is obtained by melting snow, so no dogs are allowed. Surface quality: Ungroomed but usually well tracked by skiers and snowshoers. Avalanche danger: Low
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Activity Type: Cross-Country Skiing
Nearby City: Breckenridge
Length: 7.2 total miles
Elevation Gain: 1,140 feet
Trail Type: Out-and-back
Skill Level: Novice to intermediate
Duration: 4 hours to all day
Trailhead Elevation: 10,229 feet
Top Elevation: 11,481 feet
Other Uses: Moderate snowmobile use
Local Contacts: White River National Forest
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Recent Trail Reviews


If you're new to the world of snowshoeing this is a great hike for you. The difficulty level is extremely easy if you're just out for a short jaunt. Boreas Pass "trail" is actually a road that climbs gradually out of Breck and leads to the northern edge of South Park. You can make this hike as long as you want - a simple out and back or a really long out and back. Expect to see XC skiers and other hikers the entire way, this is a very popular trail.

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