Boreas Pass is a stunning hour-long drive through filled with fall colors and mountain views.Cinders flying from the old narrow gauge railroad that chugged over Boreas Pass 100 years ago created forest fires that cleared the slopes and made way for vast groves of aspen trees. Walk, drive or bike through this tunnel of trees, creating a canopy of yellow as you make your way up the dirt road heading east from town.
Boreas Pass Road ascends from downtown Breckenridge to over 11,400 feet at the top of the Continental Divide. It’s a popular fall route that offers numerous views looking down on the town and surrounding mountains. Trails parallel the upper dirt portion of Boreas, where golden aspens are plentiful in autumn.
Hiking/Biking Trails in the Area:
- Bakers Tank Trail – Continue driving eastward up Boreas Pass Road past Argentine Meadow to Bakers Tank, where the old steam engine took on water to continue its uphill journey. At this higher elevation, spruce and fir trees take over, but you can hike or bike westward on the Bakers Tank Trail through the highest aspen grove. Once the trail turns to the north side of the hill, hikers may want to turn back to the Tank. Bikers have the option of continuing along the Bakers Tank Trail to connect to the Argentine Meadow or all the way back to the Boreas Pass Trailhead at the end of the pavement.
- Gold Dust Trail – Continue along Boreas Pass Road, over the summit, and proceed down to the Park County side of the pass. In a short distance, you will come to the Gold Dust Trail, a single track that winds its way through spruce forests then aspen groves as it descends to the historic railroad town of Como. Arrange to have a vehicle pick you up, return the way you came, or loop back on Boreas Pass Road. About 10 miles one way.
- Aspen Alley – This one takes the cake as one of the best fall trails in Breckenridge, and it’s not hard to tell why. This short yet stunning hike is located between Boreas Pass Road and the Stephen C. West Ice Arena, and features some of the biggest groves of aspen trees in Summit County. If you’re planning to drive on Boreas Pass Road for the autumn foliage, be sure to also throw this trail into your leaf peeping plans along the way.
Scenic Drive: Boreas Pass Road
From the end of pavement to the summit of Boreas Pass is about 6.5 miles of dirt road, passable by most vehicles except in muddy or wet conditions. Some sections are single-lane through narrow rock passages; uphill traffic has the right-of-way in the mountains. Be on the lookout for hikers, bikers and foilage photographers as you drive the pass. Allow 30-60 minutes of leisurely driving to reach the summit where you’ll find Continental Divide. The historic Section House at the pass is a ski hut in the winter, available for overnight reservations.
Those seeking a longer scenic drive (be sure to fill up on gas!) can make it a loop by continuing on Boreas Pass Road all the way to Como and Fairplay, and then on to highway 9 over the top of Hoosier Pass and back into Breckenridge. Be sure to hop out at the top of each pass and take in the views or do a quick hike to stretch out the legs.
Directions: At the south end of Breckenridge, take Boreas Pass Road east. About 4 miles from town, the pavement ends at the Boreas Pass Trailhead. Park here to walk or bike along the road or to Bakers Tank Trail, or continue driving on to Como.