Hiking is a popular Summit County activity for both visitors and local alike. Lower elevation hikes can also be done in the winter time with a pair of snowshoes and/or waterproof hiking boots. For those unfamiliar with the area, a quick Google search, a visit to the Welcome Center or asking frontline workers is a good way to get information on which trails to take in. It’s no surprise that the most popular trails are mentioned time and time again. On the weekends or busiest summer days, parking can sometimes be hard to come by and hikers may find themselves one of hundreds making their way up at these beloved sites. For a hiker hoping for a bit of solitude during peak periods, avoiding the hot spots is the best bet. Because we love sharing our knowledge of the area, we’re going to let you in on some great secret trail options that don’t make the “most popular” lists. These trails are just as beautiful and hikeable as the well-known spots and, best of all, a bit less traveled.
- Windy Point: Just down the road from one of the most photographed overlooks in Summit County (Sapphire Point) is a trailhead right off the road at the entrance to the Windy Point Campground. The campground itself is removed from the trail head and the trailhead parking lot usually sits mostly empty. The Windy Point Trail is a short and easy up-and-back hike with numerous species of wildflowers, granite cliffs, and stunning views. Most of the hike traverses through new-growth forest that allows 360 views from the center of Summit County to take in the most iconic landmarks such as 14ers Gray’s and Torrey’s to the east and the Ten-Mile Range to the west. The trail will branch off in a few directions near the cliffs, but there is only one trail in and back out.
- Iowa Hill: A short and moderate 1 mile loop that also serves as an educational/historical experience of the gold mining era. Interpretive displays accompany the mining relics along the hike including a sluice box and shaft. These displays make great rest stops. Peak inside windows to the past at the restored boarding house.
- B&B to Reiling Dredge: A 3-mile loop that also provides a glimpse into the gold-mining days of Breckenridge history. Clear your mind with a mostly flat walk in the woods crossing a few streams on a wide trail that is popular with local mountain bikers. The big payoff on this hike is emerging from the woods to a pond where the Reiling Dredge was abandoned after sinking in 1922. The dredge underwent a restoration project back in 2015. Interpretive signs exist along the trail.
- Officer’s Gulch: A beautiful alpine lake with super-easy access just west of Frisco. From the parking area, take the trail counter-clockwise around the lake as far as comfortable. You’ll want to stay awhile, so pack a picnic.
- Crystal Lake Trail: Crystal Lake shares a parking area with the heavily-trafficked Mohawk Lakes trail which can become crowded early in the day. However, if you have a 4WD, you can drive past the parking area and shorten the ascent to the Lower Crystal Lake by 1.5 hours. The first mile and a half is a steep rocky scree that gives the trail its difficulty rating. Mountain goats will likely greet you near the lower lake. The upper lake is approximately 2 miles past the lower lake with a 900’ elevation gain. This hike improves later in the summer when most of the snow has melted and wildflowers are in bloom.
Chances are, your Breckenridge Associates agent has a favorite trail or two kept guarded and not on this list. Give them a call or stop in next time you’re in town. We love sharing our insider tips.