Hit the dirt without leaving the heart of Breckenridge with these four trail loops for hiking and mountain biking. Along the way, enjoy wildflowers, beautiful homes, historical remnants and stunning views of the valley and mountains. Each of these trail loops are relatively short, but none are super easy, as trails that start in town can only go up! Check out easy hiking trails in Breckenridge if you’d like to start out a little slower. If you’re ready for a work out that’s worth the reward, these easy-access Breckenridge trail loops are perfect for hiking and for more advanced mountain bikers.
1. Columbia + Corkscrew
Linking sidewalks and dirt trails, this loop will take you past beautiful homes and quiet woods, and is the easiest of the four trail loops.
The easiest way to get to the trail is to start at the Community Center, and depart the parking lot on the Northwest corner. Then head west on Lincoln Avenue a short distance to French Street.
Confused about which way is North? It’s easy to navigate in the Breckenridge area using the cardinal points: the Breckenridge Ski Area and the Tenmile range is always on the West!
Turn right (North) on French Street and take the sidewalk three blocks to the intersection with Luisa Drive where you’ll find the trail marker for Columbia Lode Trail, named for the mining claim first struck on this site. Head up the hill on the dirt path to the stone armature making an easy transition to the road above. You’ll be on pavement for only a short distance, a few hundred yards marked by hike/bike stencils on the roadway.
Follow the stencils to the Corkscrew Trail on your left, and enter a wooded area offering shade from Lodgepole pine trees. After a short distance, the Corkscrew Trail forks, go right and continue in an easterly direction. At the intersection of Corkscrew Up and Corkscrew Down, go Up past telephone and electrical pedestals and top out on Wellington Road. Take the sidewalk to the right and start looping back toward the west. Stay on the sidewalk down the hill to Harris Street to return to the Community Center or add more dirt with a slight variation.
2. Washington Trail + Bonanza + Carter Park
This loop will take you through a forested trail dotted by log cabin remanets, moderate climbs and wildflowers. Ending at Carter Park offers sweeping views of town and the Ten Mile Range.
From the Community Center, depart from the Southeastern corner of the parking lot and proceed east on Washington Avenue. The trail picks up where the road leaves off. Continue up the hill on the Washington Trail crossing two paved roads to meet the Bonanza Trail. Along the way, you’ll pass through historic Curtain Hill, the location of prostitutes’ “cribs.” Remnants of their humble log cabins were visible before the new homes of the subdivisions were built, a striking contrast between then and now.
Bonanza Trail climbs steeply past some of Breckenridge’s largest homes tucked amid patches of native vegetation and wildflowers. Cross pavement three more times before topping out where Bonanza meets Hermit Placer Trail. This old ditch moved water for the extensive hydraulic mine workings in French Gulch. Proceed south (right) to the sign for Carter Park. Make your way down the switchbacks to Carter Park and back to the Community Center by heading north on High Street and west on Washington Avenue. Extend the excursion by continuing on Hermit Placer going south: see next trail description.
3. Carter Park + Hermit Placer + Jacks Cruel Joke + Sunbeam
Breckenridge’s most popular park is a hub of trail activity in addition to hosting a pavilion, grassy field, dog park, tennis and volleyball courts. Restrooms, water, trash and recycling are also available here. This short but steep loop combines natural areas, great wildflower viewing, and outstanding views of Breckenridge.
The start of this hike is a popular switchback for mountain bikers. While uphill has the right of way, always share the trail and stay aware of your surroundings. We recommend keeping your dog on leash. This hike offers stunning views, a consistent climb in parts and forested surroundings.
Access Carter Park by departing the Community Center from the Southeast corner, go east on Washington Avenue and south on High Street. Pick up the Carter Park Trailhead on the north side (near side) of the tennis courts. The trail soon forks and gives hikers the option to climb stone stairs while bikers take the dirt switchback trails. Wind your way up Carter Park sledding hill, taking time to smell the roses, columbine, Indian paintbrush, anemone and other wildflowers along the way.
At the top, pause for the view of Breckenridge, the Ski Area and the Upper Blue Valley. Continue south on Hermit Placer Trail as it finds its way through an aspen forest with more stunning views. Hermit Placer ends where Jacks Cruel Joke begins its descent back down the mountain. This trail is considered an expert mountain bike trail due to the steep grades, narrow width, and eye-popping drop offs. For hikers, it’s not so difficult or scary. Soon you will find yourself back down on the valley floor. Cross the road to pick up the Sunbeam Trail, a meadow oasis along a spring-fed water course. Cross pavement two more times before finding yourself again at Carter Park. Return to the Community Center the way you came.
4. Pence Miller Ditch + Black Loop
This trail starts from the Town Overlook off of Ski Hill Road, giving a new perspective on Breckenridge. As the trail courses around Shock Hill to the north, new views are seen around each corner. You’ll encounter rock outcroppings, wildflowers and vegetation.
Start at the Town Overlook parking area on Ski Hill Road. Carefully cross the road and head east on the Shock Hill Trail under the gondola. Zigzag your way down to the Pence Miller Ditch and go left (north). Immediately the trail is different, cool and shady amidst the aspen trees, passing interesting rock outcroppings and a rich variety of wildflowers. Views evolve as you circle around to the north side of Shock Hill, and the vegetation changes too. Shade loving plants like ferns and Fairy Slipper Orchids can be seen along the trail. Pence Miller fades away where it tops out onto a wide trail, part of the Black Loop of the Breckenridge Nordic Center. Turn left to make your way back to your starting point. The trail is called Black Loop for a reason: it’s the most difficult ski trail at the Nordic Center, which means it has hills! Climb up Luge and Uffda hills to reconnect with the end of the loop. The views are incredible, taking your mind off the effort.
Trail Etiquette & Leave No Trace Practices
Anytime you are out enjoying nature, it’s important to abide by Leave No Trace principles. Remember pack it in, pack it out always— this includes all trash, waste, gear etc. If you see trash along the trail, pick it up! It is best to leave the trail and the wilderness even more beautiful than when you arrived whenever possible. Stay on the trail and avoid the side trails or any shortcuts to preserve the natural environment as much as possible while avoiding erosion. You can help us preserve and protect what we love by following Leave No Trace practices during your visit. Learn more by taking the Tree-Hugger Challenge.
Basic Trail Etiquette
Follow these easy tips and guidelines while out on the trail to respect nature and other trail users.
- A hiker going uphill has the right of way. If you’re on a flat section, just be courteous and move to the side allow others to pass.
- Greet others with a simple “hello” or a smile when you pass.
- Keep conversation volume down to respect nearby trail users and enjoy the quietude of nature around you.
- Keep dogs within sight, under control and have a leash handy to avoid and unwanted interactions with other pets, wildlife or trail users.
- Stay on the trail. Avoid shortcuts, unless they are official trails. This helps protect the fragile habit, plants and integrity of the natural area.
- Yield to bikes and horses, livestock. Technically bikers are supposed to yield to hikers, but usually bikes are moving quickly and it’s easy enough to stop and let them pass. When you see horses on the trail, just step to the side and let them pass.
- Want to make sure you’ve packed all the essentials? Check out our Summer Packing Guide or prepare for your hike with these handy tips and what to bring from the experts at REI.
- Colorado Trail Explorer (COTrex) is a great place to start looking for hikes. Choose your location and all the trails for that area will show up. Star your favorites, get trail info and look at recent photos.
- No car? No problem. Carpool or take the bus to many of the Breckenridge trailheads.
- On busy days, trailheads can fill up by noon, so head out early- the trail will be less crowded too and you’ll miss the afternoon thunderstorms that can roll in by the afternoon.
- Know and follow trail etiquette and leave no trace principles. Please pack out your trash, leave the wildflowers for others to enjoy, and give a friendly wave to the other users sharing the trail with you.
- New to hiking or mountain biking? Consider going with a guide or taking a class. Breckenridge Heritage Alliance offers guided hiking trails that add an educational component to your trip. Colorado Adventure Guides offer a variety of mountain biking lessons and guided hikes for all skill levels.
With these handy tips, you’re well on your way to choosing one or many hiking destinations perfect for you and your group, and you didn’t even have to create a matrix diagram to make your decision.