When the snow melts in Breckenridge, the rivers start to roar. Hiking and biking trails start to peek through the snow, signaling that summer is officially on its way. These moderate south of town hikes offer great waterfall viewing throughout late June, and on through August and September, depending on how much snow we got throughout winter and spring. Strap on your hiking boots; here are three Breckenridge waterfall hikes worth the trek.
3 Must-Hike Breckenridge Waterfalls
1. McCullough Gulch
There are two trailheads you can use to access McCullough Gulch. The newer, lower access parking lot is located about 7 miles south of Breckenridge, on the right side of highway 9 opposite the Lodge by the Blue. From here you can access a beautiful wooded trail, turning into the old road that leads up into McCullough Gulch following the rock-strewn stream. Starting here makes the hike about twice as long.
The other access, a 1.3-mile hike, to McCullough Gulch is at the trailhead at the end of County Road 851 on Hoosier Pass. Take a right on Blue Lakes Road (CR 850), and another right on CR 851. This hike is pretty high in elevation, starting at about 11,000′, so is usually dry by July.
- Local’s Tip: Wildlife sightings are common on high alpine hikes. Help us care for Colorado and keep wildlife wild by following these tips.
2a. Mohawk Lakes – Continental Falls
Continental Falls is the largest waterfall around Breckenridge, tumbling through three chasms in its deeply eroded gully down the rocky face. Over several switchbacks, small side trails lead to the edge of the falls for not-to-miss views of the white water and cliff faces.
This hike is accessed from Spruce Creek Trail, just south of town about 2.4 miles. Opposite the Goose Pasture Tarn, take a right onto Spruce Creek Road (CR800). Follow signs to the main trailhead parking lot, where low-clearance vehicles must park. You can opt for the rough 4wd road and continue another 1.5 miles to park closer.
From the lower parking lot, the hike starts out pretty mellow through a beautiful wooded trail. Once you’ve made it to treeline, you’ll climb the steep switchbacks beside Continental Falls followed by a quaint set of cabins and a view of the falls. It’s a good spot to rest before the push to the lakes. Once you’ve made it to Lower Mohawk Lake, stop for a snack or lunch (remember to pack out what you pack in) and if you’re up for it, keep going on to Upper Mohawk Lake (6.7 mi round-trip).
- Local’s Tip: As this is one of the most popular trails in Breckenridge, it can get busy and parking can fill up fast. Try to arrive early and avoid peak times like weekends and mid-day.
2b. Mohawk Lakes – Between the Lakes
Once you crest the hill and see Lower Mohawk Lake at eye level, you’ll realize it was worth the uphill slog. Walk around the lake to its other end and find a trail ascending the rock, following the water to the upper lake, the true Mohawk Lake. Spruce Creek churns into a skinny whitewater cascade as it hurls down over the rocks from the upper lake. The Forest Service requests you walk on the rocks here to avoid disturbing the fragile alpine tundra.
This is also a high-elevation area, with the upper lake coming in at around 12,100 feet. In most years the hike clears of snow in July.
- Local’s Tip: Mountain weather conditions can change quickly. Be sure to pack a day bag filled with extra layers, sun protection, a re-usable water bottle and snacks. Here’s what else to pack for your Breckenridge summer vacation.
3. Blue Lakes – Monte Cristo Gulch
From Blue Lakes Road (CR850), continue straight instead of turning right into McCullough Gulch, and access Monte Cristo Creek. Upper Blue Lake is a reservoir water source for Aurora and Colorado Springs, and the gulch is spectacular. There’s more hiking above the upper lake too.
Keep your eye out for a small waterfall visible from the road as you drive up through Monte Cristo Gulch. You can explore the Granite cliffs and take in the wildflower meadows between the lakes after parking in the lot below the dam.
Breckenridge Waterfalls Hiking & Trail Resources
- Here in June and looking for dry trails? Check out these early season hiking trails in Breckenridge.
- No car? No problem! It’s easy to get around Breckenridge without a car. Check out 3 easy hikes from town or these hiking trails accessible by bus.
- Want more trail ideas? Try these best summer hikes in Breckenridge.
- Stop by Mountain Outfitters for maps, books, gear and more, or swing by the Welcome Center for current trail conditions, directions and recommendations.