Hiking Coloradoand39;s Summit County Area  by Maryann Gaug

Hiking Colorado's Summit County Area Guide Book

by Maryann Gaug (Falcon Guides)
Hiking Coloradoand39;s Summit County Area  by Maryann Gaug
Hiking Colorado’s Summit County Area features 25 of the region’s finest trails—from short day hikes to overnight backpacks. With this comprehensive guide, local hiker Maryann Gaug provides all the information you need to get the most out of hiking through this land of towering peaks, high mountain lakes, and flower-filled meadows. Look inside to find: Hikes suited to every ability; Detailed trail descriptions; GPS-compatible trail maps and route profiles; Mile-by-mile directional cues Difficulty ratings, trail contacts, fees/permits information, best hiking seasons, and much more.

© 2006 Maryann Gaug/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "Hiking Colorado's Summit County Area" Guide Book
Displaying trails 20 of 25.

Displaying trails 1 to 20 of 25.

This hike actually follows three trails: Carter Park, Moonstone, and Barney Ford. The majority of the hike is on the Barney Ford Trail, which was built along old mining trails and ditches past mine ruins and plenty of glory holes. Except for the first grunt uphill on the Carter Park Trail, the hike through coniferous forest is fairly gentle. You can hike this trail as an out-and-back, point-to-point, or bus shuttle. The Barney Ford story is a fascinating account of a slave who believed he would become free and rich. His dreams turned to reality as he became a prominent Colorado citizen.
Breckenridge, CO - Hiking,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 4.8
The hike to Bear Lake ascends the south ridge of Galena Mountain, traveling through lodgepole pine forest. From the top of the ridge, you can see a large part of the upper Arkansas Valley and Colorado ’s highest peaks. The trail then drops into spruce-fir forest, wandering past several little ponds and lakes. Idyllic Bear Lake sits on a wide flat bench bordered by big boulders on its west side. The hike to Bear Lake follows the Colorado Trail and Continental Divide National Scenic Trail, which use the path of the old Main Range Trail. The latter was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Depression in the 1930s for fire protection.
Leadville, CO - Hiking,Horseback Riding - Trail Length: 6.5
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Bowman’s Shortcut Trail is often gentle interspersed with a few steep stretches. The trail winds through lodgepole and spruce-fir forest then crosses several open meadows on a gentle ridge with great views of Mount of the Holy Cross and the Sawatch Range to the southwest the Gore Range to the east and the Tenmile Range to the south. The meadows are filled with colorful wildflowers in July. In winter this trail is part of the Commando Run of the U. S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division fame. The best part of Bowman’s Shortcut Trail comes along the high gentle ridge —the great views cover a large section of the central mountains. You can see at least three 14 000-foot peaks: Mount Elbert and Mount Massive near Leadville and Mount of the Holy Cross. What appears to be a high meadow above a headwall is really Homestake Reservoir. To the east the craggy peaks of the Gore Range treat the eye.
Frisco, CO - Hiking,Horseback Riding,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 5.6
The huge granite dome called Buffalo Mountain towers above Dillon Reservoir and the towns of Silverthorne, Dillon, and Frisco. Such an imposing mountain attracts climbers and over the years people scrambled up, creating “climbers ’trails” to the summit. Buffalo Mountain now boasts a new summit trail that, while still difficult, is much more hiker and environmentally friendly. “Still difficult” means a 23 percent grade for 0.6 mile through a boulder field. The climb is well worth the effort for the views, beautiful tundra flowers, and a chance to see the mountain goat family that grazes on the high slopes. Buffalo Mountain has long been a landmark in Summit County. Called Buffalo by early settlers who thought it looked like a buffalo’s back, the peak towered over La Bonte’s Hole below, at the intersection of the Blue River, Snake River, and Tenmile Creek. Buffalo (bison) grazed in the lush valley during the summer, retreating over Hoosier Pass to South Park for the long winters. Ute Indians summered in the valleys, hunting the plentiful game.
Silverthorne, CO - Hiking,Horseback Riding - Trail Length: 6
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The hike to spectacular Chihuahua Lake (an unnamed lake on topo maps) travels first along a four-wheel-drive road through a beautiful and serene high alpine valley. Two 14,000-foot peaks, Torreys and Grays, guard the valley’s eastern flank. At road’s end, a single-track trail continues toward the Continental Divide and wanders above treeline. The lake is tucked in a high bowl at 12, 400 feet above a cliff band, which the trail breaks through via a steep slippery section. Wildflowers and willows line the trail, which makes umpteen creek crossings along its route. The short-lived town of Chihuahua once boasted a population of 200 people. As with other towns in the area, some confusion reigns as to the origin of its name. Some people claim it was named for the Mexican state, but others state it came from an old Indian chief called Shu-wa-wa. In September 1879 five men created the first settlement, which prospered just downstream from the trailhead. The town was incorporated in 1880. Situated in one of the richest mining districts in the state, Chihuahua became a top mining camp.
Keystone, CO - Hiking,Horseback Riding,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 7.7
In summer 2002, volunteer crews from the Colorado Trail Foundation completed a reroute of the Colorado Trail where it traverses above Copper Mountain Resort. The new trail crosses several ski runs, travels under chairlifts, drops near the Village at Copper, then winds down to meet the older part of the Colorado Trail near the confluence of Jacque Creek and Guller Creek. Various wildflowers and remnants of the old days of mining and logging mix with today ’s white gold (snow riding)along this trail. For Colorado Trail aficionados, hikers on the old section walked on the road from Wheeler Flats trailhead through Copper Mountain then along the paved recreational path to a bridge over Tenmile Creek. From there the trail followed Guller Creek to its headwaters and east to Searle Pass. The USFS and Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado (VOC)then revegetated the old trail from Jacque Creek down (east)to the paved recreational path. This hike follows the new section of the Colorado Trail to Guller Creek.
Frisco, CO - Hiking,Horseback Riding,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 12.4
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This easy hike along the edges of Cucumber Gulch provides not only great views of the Tenmile Range, but also glimpses of a fen wetland that is considered prime habitat for the endangered boreal toad. Hike in the early morning or evening when the wild inhabitants come out. Moose, bears, beavers, foxes, coyotes, ospreys, bald eagles, and various duck species might be seen. The Town of Breckenridge has designated Cucumber Gulch a wildlife preserve because of its sensitive natural resources. Trails do not enter the fragile gulch, but travel its edges. The town plans to install interpretive signs in the future. To experience Cucumber Gulch, hike first to the overlook near Shock Hill, which provides a great view of the whole gulch and its various ponds nestled in the forest. The Tenmile Range and Breckenridge Ski Area tower above the gulch. Look closely below to see if you can see a coyote or family of ducks.
Breckenridge, CO - Hiking,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 2.2
The Dillon Reservoir Recreation Area offers easy hiking opportunities in the Dillon Nature Preserve Open Space. The mostly flat gated dirt road to the West Portal of the Roberts Tunnel is hikable year-round while the forested Meadow Loop and Ridge Trails can sometimes be obscured by snow. Various combinations of the two trails and road provide shorter or longer walks all with fantastic views of Dillon Reservoir, Dillon, the Gore Range, and the Tenmile Range. Interpretive signs created by fourth and fifth graders at Dillon Valley Elementary School add insight into the area and its inhabitants, both wild and human. The Dillon Nature Preserve contains two trails but is first and foremost a nature preserve. Keep your eyes open for fox, pine squirrels, deer, red-tailed hawks, and ospreys. Being lower than many trails in central Summit County, the snow melts sooner and the flowers bloom earlier here.
Dillon, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 5.3
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This hike meanders along the Colorado River downriver of spectacular Gore Canyon. Only boaters and train passengers can travel in the vertical-walled inner gorge. The trail passes limber pine trees, a few campsites, and finally climbs a little gully to a trail higher above the river. The first part of the hike is along a placid river. Farther upstream, the river noisily leaps through rapids where the walls of the canyon start to rise. The trail is tricky in a few spots where erosion is taking its toll. Dropping down, the visible trail ends on the river bank. The railroad that travels along the river opposite the hiking trail is known as the Moffat Road. At the beginning of the twentieth century, Denver found itself bypassed by transcontinental railroads that had been built on easier routes to the north in Wyoming (Union Pacific)and south near Pueblo (Rio Grande). Businesses moved from Denver to Cheyenne because freight rates to and from Denver proved costly.
Kremmling, CO - Fishing,Hiking - Trail Length: 3.1
The old wagon road (nonmotorized) to the 7:30 Mine climbs steadily above Silver Plume, past relics of the silver boom of the 1880s.Bristlecone pine, lodgepole pine, and aspen line the trail. After 1.5 miles the trail becomes narrower, and occasionally you’ll have to duck under bristlecone pine branches while negotiating a side-sloping slippery route. The Griffin Memorial obelisk stands on a rock outcropping below the 7:30 Mine Road near the upper mouth of Brown Gulch. A tad farther up the narrow trail are two rusting boilers from the 7:30 Mine, the remains of which lie across the creek. Some people say you can still hear the sounds of his violin from the lofty rock outcrop 1, 250 feet above Silver Plume. While hiking up the 7:30 Mine Road to the Griffin Memorial, listen closely. Do you hear the sweet violin playing of Clifford Griffin’s ghost, or is it just the wind?
Silver Plume, CO - Hiking,Horseback Riding,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 3.7
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The hike to Grouse Lake follows Grouse Creek, which could be more aptly named Berry Bush Creek. The trail climbs steadily through spruce-fir forest interspersed with aspen. A few flatter sections provide ample time to restore one’s breath. Little creeks along the trail are filled with moss-covered rocks and bordered with flowers. Grouse Peak overlooks a long valley at the end of which sits grass-lined Grouse Lake. The lake lies just within the Holy Cross Wilderness. The trail to Grouse Lake is lined with innumerable berry bushes of several varieties, including twinberry, elderberry, gooseberry, currant, and thistleberry. Little creeks run clear and cold, with moss-covered rocks and logs creating exquisite aquatic gardens.
Minturn, CO - Hiking,Horseback Riding - Trail Length: 9.2
The popular hike to Herman Lake starts on an old sawmill road through thick forest. The trail then wanders through fields of colorful wildflowers with spectacular views of the Continental Divide. Most of the trail doubles as a section of the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail. A last steep pitch takes you to treeline where the trail mellows on the final stretch to Herman Lake, nestled in a bowl at 12,000 feet below Pettingell Peak. Herman Hassell, an early timber operator in the area, supposedly named Herman Gulch after himself. While timber may have been Herman’s ambition, today wildflower aficionados consider this trail a “100 wildflower” or “century” hike because of the possibility of seeing about a hundred different flower species during peak bloom in late July.
Silver Plume, CO - Fishing,Hiking,Horseback Riding,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 6.7
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The Iowa Hill Hydraulic Placer Mine is explored along this historic interpretive trail. The hikes takes you back 145 years in history to the days when miners panned for gold then developed techniques using water cannons, called hydraulic giants, to wash the sides of gulches into sluice boxes to capture gold particles. Mining History News rates this trail as “one of the best hydraulic mining exhibits in the world.” A restored two-story log Miners ’Boarding House on the trail can be toured by appointment. The Iowa Hill interpretive displays were created by following old pictures and knowledge of how the miners first panned for gold in streams and then evolved hydraulic techniques to remove gold from the hills.
Breckenridge, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.2
This gentle, uncrowded hike follows an old mining road then travels on the Gore Range Trail (GRT), climbing a lateral moraine left by two epochs of glaciers. The GRT wanders around the top of the forested glacial debris, past many small ponds, some covered with lily pads. The moraine is covered with conifers—mainly lodge-pole pine interspersed with a few aspen, spruce, and fir. Dropping down to cross South Rock Creek, the trail crosses a few boggy areas, then climbs to an unnamed lake. The peaceful destination provides views of Red Peak with its craggy ridge, and the Thorn. Between 150, 000 and 12, 000 years ago, two periods of glaciation (Bull Lake and Pinedale) deposited thick sheets of ice in this area. As the glaciers crept forward, they eroded the land underneath and pushed the resulting sediments out of the way, creating ridges known as lateral moraines. Hunks of ice sometimes became embedded in the moraine then melted creating small ponds. Geologists call these depressions kettle ponds or kettle holes.
Silverthorne, CO - Hiking,Horseback Riding - Trail Length: 6.4
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Lily Pad Lake is a very popular destination especially from the Lily Pad Lake Trail #50 trailhead (see Option 2). Hiking the complete trail from Frisco to Ryan Gulch provides the most diverse scenery and wildflowers. The Summit Stage bus provides a nice shuttle opportunity with just one vehicle. Lily Pad Lake is actually two lakes, with Buffalo Mountain towering above. Good views of the Frisco area can be seen along the trail from the Meadow Creek trailhead. This trail section also contains the best variety of wildflowers. The hike from Ryan Gulch is easy and popular year-round. When you arrive at Lily Pad Lake, the bigger of the two lakes, you might wonder why it has no lily pads on it. The lake used to be smaller, but beavers built a dam and enlarged it. The yellow pondlilies did not like the enlarged lake, perhaps because of the change in depth or water flow. The smaller lake is probably a kettle pond left over from glacial times, and sports a large quantity of yellow pondlilies. Watch closely for duck families that enjoy swimming among the lilies. The little ducklings appear to be walking on water as they waddle across the green pads.
Silverthorne, CO - Hiking,Horseback Riding - Trail Length: 3.3
This easy and family-friendly loop trail travels through fields of colorful wildflowers, thick spruce-fir forest, and past beautiful cascades of Cataract Creek. After hiking, spend some time lounging along the shores of the lake enjoying views of Cataract Falls and Eagles Nest. The pointy peak is the second highest in the Gore Range and is the namesake for the Eagles Nest Wilderness area. Cataract Lake is a gem of a lake situated below Cataract Falls. The falls were created when the land uplifted starting about five million years ago. Locals in the late 1800s enjoyed the Cataract Lake area. Howard Hill owned Cataract Lake back in those days and also ran a fish hatchery. He stocked trout in the pretty lake. The Summit County Journal in July 1899 noted that “Mountain trout, from Cataract Lake, the proprietor holding a state license to market fish,[is ] on sale at George E. Moon’s every Friday.” An article in the Breckenridge Bulletin, September 23,1905,stated that Hill “has already placed 1,500,000 fish in the lake since he became its owner.”
Heeney, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.4
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The trail to Masontown is a pleasant family hike. A side trip to the east of town can provide fun exploring the area for mining relics. The hike from Masontown to Mount Royal and farther up to the ridge of Mount Victoria is strenuous but passes more mine and cabin ruins. The upward grunt is worth the climb for the views, especially the straight-down, birds-eye view of Interstate 70 in Tenmile Canyon. Limber pine, which grow in harsh conditions, live on the ridges. Four different hikes along these trails make the area well worth exploring during several visits. While walking along the paved recreational path toward the Mount Royal Trail, imagine the sounds of the old trains which steamed along here. Two railroads served Frisco. The first, the Denver & Rio Grande (D&RG), came from Leadville down Tenmile Canyon, arriving in town in summer 1882. The Denver, South Park & Pacific, later called the Colorado & Southern (C&S), chooed and chugged down the recreational path from Breckenridge arriving in Frisco in July 1883. At mile 0.3 the depot for the C&S once stood. Across the field you can see the tailings from the Frisco Tunnel, which operated into the 1930s. The D&RG ended service in 1911, while the C&S ran until 1937.
Frisco, CO - Hiking,Horseback Riding,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 3.8
This 14.9-mile hike traverses the Gore Range over Red-Buffalo Pass. Along the way, you can see almost everything that is special about the Eagles Nest Wilderness. Flower-filled meadows, views of craggy peaks and spires, marshes, avalanche paths, old graves, a set of waterfalls, and coniferous forests provide for a continuous change of scenery and feeling of remoteness. Most of the trail follows the route originally pro- posed for Interstate 70. The hike can be done as a long day hike, backpack, or separate hikes. Enjoy the beauty of the Gore Range and Eagles Nest Wilderness! If the Colorado Department of Transportation’s (CDOT) wish had been granted back in the mid-1960s, you would be driving along South Willow Creek and Gore Creek instead of hiking. CDOT proposed a route for I –70 that would turn at Silverthorne and head up South Willow Creek. At an elevation of about 10, 700 feet, a two-lane tunnel would burrow under Red-Buffalo Pass for about 6, 500 feet. On the west side, I –70 would travel down Gore Creek and then curve west past Vail.
Silverthorne, CO - Hiking,Horseback Riding,Trail Running - Trail Length: 14.9
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The Spruce Creek trails gently climbs through thick forest for 1. 5 miles. After the junction with the Wheeler National Recreation Trail, various open areas provide glimpses of the silver ribbon of Continental Falls. After passing the remains of a mill and two old cabins, the trail switchbacks up a steep hill south of the falls through rock gardens of beautiful flowers with views to distant peaks. Passing the top of an old tram, the trail snakes uphill then pops out on a bench containing crystal clear Lower Mohawk Lake with its backdrop of craggy peaks, waterfalls, and mining relics. Colorful wildflowers, ribbons of waterfalls, and spectacular peaks coupled with a close-up look at remains of the mining era make this trail a very popular hike.
Breckenridge, CO - Hiking,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 6
The Ptarmigan Trail climbs steadily through various ecosystems including sagebrush meadow, lodgepole pine, aspen, spruce-fir, and alpine tundra —the land above the trees. While thick forest envelops the trail the first 4 miles, a few open spaces provide great views of the Gore Range or the lower Blue River valley. As you hike above treeline, keep your eyes open on the north ridge for the resident elk herd. The long hike is rewarded by beautiful vistas from the top, including four 14,000-foot peaks, much of the craggy Gore Range, the Tenmile Range, and Dillon Reservoir.
Silverthorne, CO - Hiking,Horseback Riding,Mountain Biking,Trail Running - Trail Length: 12
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