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Family hiking at Breckenridge during the fall
Family hiking at Breckenridge during the fall

Best Fall Hikes in Breckenridge

Best Fall Hikes in Breckenridge

Fall offers near perfect conditions for outdoor adventures with cooler temperatures and gorgeous colors in the mountains. While there is no guarantee on dates, mid-to-late September is the perfect time to take in the fall foliage by bike or on foot on the trails. So if you’ve always wanted to see the aspens turn and soak in that glorious autumn sunshine in the mountains, you’re in luck. Here’s our favorite fall hikes for every kind of adventurer.

 

Best for Big Views: Boreas Pass Road

A couple hiking Boreas Pass in the fall

Boreas Pass offers wide views of the Tenmile range.

Boreas Pass is one of the quintessential fall experiences in Breckenridge. With captivating views that top out at 11,481 feet, this hike is full of history, scenery, a trip across the continental divide, high alpine views and aspens galore. Walk or bike as far as you’d like, taking in views of the Tenmile mountain range and Breckenridge Ski Resort.

Getting there: At the very south end of Breckenridge, take Boreas Pass Road all the way to the top via the Free Ride Boreas Pass bus loop. About 4 miles from town, the pavement ends at the Boreas Pass Trailhead. Walk or bike along the road or continue up to the top of the continental divide and Black Powder Pass trailhead.

Nearby:

  • High Line Railroad park and playground features the historical Engine No. 9, which sits on the original High Line track that came into Breckenridge from Boreas Pass. It includes a restored rotary snowplow, one of only five known narrow-gauge rotaries still in existence; back in the day, it cleared snow on the track. The new, colorful playground just behind the train will provide plenty of giggles, while the engine and cars are a great places for candid family photos.
  • The historic Section House at the top of the pass is a ski hut in the winter, available for overnight reservations. If you have extra time, check out Baker’s Tank trail or Aspen Alley for prime leaf peeping and great mountain biking.

 

Best for Bikers: Aspen Alley

Aspen Alley trail in fall bikers

Wind through groves of Aspens on Aspen Alley trail.

This popular 2.6 mile one-way mountain biking and hiking trail starts at the Boreas Pass trailhead and ends at the Sawmill Museum parking lot. True to its name, Aspen Alley features numerous switchbacks through beautiful aspen groves.

Getting there: At the very south end of Breckenridge, take Boreas Pass Road all the way to the top via the Free Ride Boreas Pass bus loop. About 4 miles from town, the pavement ends at the Boreas Pass Trailhead. Go south past the gate and look for a singletrack on the west side of the road.

Nearby: 

  • The trail finishes at the free historic Sawmill Museum, perfect for self guided tours for the whole family, year round. Once you’re recharged, continue onto the Blue River Trail, a mild 3.0-mile out-and-back trail to take in mountain views and the last wildflowers of the season. This is a very popular area for hiking, running and biking, so you’ll likely encounter other people while exploring.

 

Best off the Bus Route: Blue River Trail

Blue River Trail Breckenridge

Getting to hiking trailheads without a car is a breeze in Breckenridge.

The Blue River Trail rolls gently along a ridge bordering Illinois Creek, crossing a variety of ecosystems, from thick spruce forest to aspen groves and open meadows. Mining relics, wildflowers, and views of Boreas Pass and the Ten Mile Range draw you along the trail. After about a mile, you’ll come to a large meadow with wild grasses, flowers, willows, bird song and great views of Boreas Pass and the Ten Mile Range. At the meadow, the trail forks and the trail post includes a sign pointing the way back to the Illinois Creek High trail. You’ll return to the Ice Rink this way. Don’t forget to stop at the Sawmill museum if you have time!

Getting there: Take the Main Street Trolley (more direct) or the Gray Route free bus to the Ice Rink stop. The Main Street Trolley loops up and down Main Street, making it easy to head back to town for lunch after your hike. From the Ice Rink stop, walk across the parking lot to the forest on the south side, keeping the Ski Area on your west (right). The trail starts at the Illinois Creek Trailhead sign. Cross the creek on the wooden footbridge. At the fork, go left to Illinois Creek High.

Nearby:

  • The Trollstigen Trail will bring you to the famous 15-foot tall Breckenridge Troll! This short and easy trail is perfect to explore before or after your hike. During your visit, please keep Isak’s home in pristine condition and leave no trace on his surroundings.
  • Illinois Creek Trail will take you on a short loop behind the ice arena or all the way to the Sawmill Museum and Aspen Alley.  If you take the upper path there’s some great scenic views of the mountain while other locations put your streamside among the trees.  This is a good option for hiking with kids due to proximity to the troll, ice rink and bus stop.

 

Best for Families: Sawmill Creek

Sawmill Reservoir in Breckenridge fall family

Stroll around Sawmill Reservoir to take in sunshine and aspens.

Sawmill Creek trail starts at the base of Snowflake chairlift on Four O’clock Rd. It rises slowly uphill along a creek eventually tops out the Sawmill Reservoir with wonderful views of Breckenridge Ski Resort over the water. The hike itself is short and very well shaded by surrounding pine trees. Its gentle elevation gain makes it suitable for hikers of varying abilities, especially families with small children. Take a stroll around the lake or pack a picnic lunch to enjoy on the benches along the shore (just be sure to Leave No Trace by packing out everything you packed in). Connect to the Reservoir Trail on the far side of the lake to loop back to snowflake lift.

Getting there: One of the best parts about this trail is it’s proximity to downtown Breckenridge. Walk up Four O’Clock Road to the Snowflake lift, or hop on the Breckenridge Free Ride Yellow Route to the base of the lift. From there, follow signs leading to the trail.

 

Best for History Buffs: French Gulch Area

French gulch hiking Breckenridge fall

Explore mining relics and aspens galore in French Gulch.

The French Gulch area is home to many of Breckenridge’s mines, historic cabins and dredges. Travel on foot or by mountain bike on the Minnie Mine trail for a glimpse of the past as you weave through colorful aspen fields peppered with mining structures from the early days of Breckenridge. Make it a loop by adding the X10U8 trail (pronounced “extenuate”), and B&B Trails which circle back to the historic Reiling Dredge site. This well-preserved dredge is one of many mining remnants that can be seen in Breckenridge’s backcountry. The B&B Trailhead near the dredge makes it easy for beginners to access this historic site. If you have time, extend your hike or bike to trails that lead further into the backcountry, like Turk’s Trail, Wire Patch or Side Door.

Getting there: Go east up Wellington Road past the Country Boy Mine and onto French Gulch Road. Head up as far as you’d like to various marked trailheads to begin your adventure, or opt to take the free purple route bus to the end of Wellington neighborhood and start walking or biking along French Gulch Road from there.

Nearby:

  • Founded in 1877, the Country Boy Mine is one of the oldest and most famous mines in Summit County. Head underground into a real Breckenridge gold mine and experience the deep roots of Breckenridge’s history. Pan for actual gold and keep what you find, or opt for an interactive show. Stick around to pet the burros and slide down the ore chute!

Discover more historic hiking trails in Breckenridge.

 

Best for Walking From Main Street: Pence Miller

Pence Miller trail in Breckenridge fall

Pence Miller trail is close to town and offers serious mountain views.

Get your nature fix right in town. Pence Miller is a historic flume trail connecting town to the Peaks Trail. Head uphill through pines and aspen groves taking in wonderful views of the town of Breckenridge and Baldy Mountain. Continue to Cucumber Gulch Nature Preserve for unobstructed views of Breckenridge Ski Resort. Keep an eye out for Moose in the wetlands underneath the gondola and soak in the mountain views.

Getting Here: Head past Mountain Thunder Lodge from Main Street and continue to the end of Mountain Thunder Dr. to find the Morning Thunder Trailhead. Follow for a short time to connect to the Pence Miller trail and find your way into the woods as the trail weaves through wildflowers and groves of both aspens and pine up towards with sweeping views of Main Street and Baldy Mountain.

Nearby:

  • Cucumber Gulch Wildlife Preserve in Breckenridge has been one of the main areas of focus for  the Town of Breckenridge since the inception of the Open Space program. The area, which contains 77 acres of wetlands, is one of the Town’s most treasured, yet threatened resources. It provides vital habitat for the state-endangered boreal toad, moose, elk, deer, mountain lion, beaver, and over 47 species of birds. It’s hard to believe that such a wildlife sanctuary exists within a mile of Breckenridge’s Main Street! Please take the time to enjoy Cucumber Gulch Preserve while respecting the area’s vulnerability.

 

Best for Dogs: River Trail

Blue River trail breckenridge fall

Fall in Breckenridge on the Blue River trail

The River Trail offers mountain views of the Tenmile range as well as a close-up of Breckenridge’s mighty Blue River. Stroll the easy 1.3 miles along the Blue River soaking in the sounds of rushing water and birds calling, and watch for wildflowers and fishermen. This is a great trail for those new to hiking or looking to stay close to town, plus furry friends will love cooling off in the water.

Getting there:

From downtown, walk east toward the Breckenridge Recreation Center, following the green signs “To Rec Path.” After the skate park, turn left/north along the paved shared-use path a short distance. Cross Valley Brook Road and immediately turn right to follow the dirt River Trail path.

Nearby:

  • Broken Compass is a brew lover’s staple and local favorite for afternoon brews on the patio or game night with a BYO food option. Create your own flight of award winning beers, or settle on a pint of Ginger Pale Ale, Irish Red, Coconut Porter, Double IPAs and more. Well-behaved pups on leashes are welcome in the taproom and on the patio, too!
  • Head to the world’s highest distillery, Breckenridge Distillery for yummy food and expertly paired cocktails. Opt for a tour or sample their widely known blended bourbon whiskey, award-winning creations, spiced rum, bitters, seasonal fruit brandy, Chili Chile Vodka and more.

 

More Trails to Consider:

  • Iowa Hill Trail meanders past historic sites and mining artifacts so you might not even notice how much elevation you are gaining. This trail offers plenty of opportunities to break and has a few benches as well. Easily marked trails lead to interpretive sites such as a blacksmith shop and hydraulic piping. At the top is an 1868 log Boarding House. The Breckenridge Heritage Alliance offers a guided tour that includes entry into the historic building.
  • Burro Trail begins at the base of Peak 9 and the start of the trail offers views of the Breckenridge Ski Resort and town.  Once you head into the forest, you will quickly be surrounded by nature.  The trail takes you along a creek and a forest of pine trees. Burro Trail is one of the easy hikes from downtown Breckenridge. You can walk or bike from downtown, but the trail is also accessible via the Breckenridge Free Ride’s yellow route.
  • Black Powder Pass is a 3.4-mile out-and-back trail, perfect for more experienced hikers or those looking for killer views. Generally considered a moderately challenging route, it takes an average of two hours to complete. Enjoy 360 degree views from the summit; you’ll get the benefits of a 14er without the hassle.

 

Local’s Tips

  • These are some of our highest use trails during the peak leaf peeping season. Plan to get there early, go on weekdays or try one of our many trails accessible without a car to avoid crowds and lessen your impact.
  • Always be prepared with extra layers, water and snacks, sun protection and downloaded or printed maps. Purchase trail maps at the Breckenridge Welcome Center in the Blue River Plaza.
  • Help us keep wildlife wild by staying at a safe distance and never feeding our furry friends.
  • Leave no trace by packing out what you pack in, and always leave the area better than you found it.

 

 

KEEP EXPLORING

From relaxed to rugged, Breckenridge’s trail system caters to all abilities, in all seasons. Find the perfect hiking trail and tips for your next adventure:

Explore More Fall in Breckenridge

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downtown Breckenridge at dusk
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