You don’t need a car to hike some spectacular trails in Breckenridge. Free public transportation can whisk you to many popular trailheads to make hiking in Breckenridge without a car simple and easy. Start your journey at the Breck Station Transit Center for directions and scheduling from your lodging.
Way-finding in the Blue River Valley around Breckenridge is easy using the cardinal directions because the Breckenridge Ski Area is always on the west side of the valley.
Hiking in Breckenridge Without a Car:
Blue River Trail from the Ice Rink to the Sawmill Museum
Bus Route: Main Street Trolley (more direct) or Gray Route Southside to the Ice Rink stop
Length: 2.5 miles round-trip +/-, allow 1.5-2 hours, relatively easy
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.
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. Look for Fairy Slipper Orchids in the spruce forest as the trail trends up toward the signed junction with the Blue River Bike Path, go left. The trail name is a bit of a misnomer, as the path is clearly a single-track trail through the woods and not a bike path in the paved sense. However, do expect to see mountain bikes and other users on the trail.
Follow the Blue River Trail about a mile and look for aspen and cottonwood groves and a variety of wildflowers along the way. 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. Continue on to the Sawmill Museum by taking the left fork. In a short distance, you’ll walk from a lush meadow to a dry sagebrush field and through an aspen grove, each ecosystem supporting a different collection of plants and wildflowers. On your right as you head toward the Sawmill, you’ll pass private property that was once zoned for 200 condominiums, but is now protected with a conservation easement.
The Sawmill Museum is a project of the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance, showing a wide variety of tools and steam-powered equipment used to saw lumber for the growing Breckenridge mining camp. A self-guided tour is available. Return to the Ice Rink the way you came.
Beaver Run to the Ski Run or Burro Trail
Bus Route: Gray Route Southside to Beaver Run Bus Stop
Length: 1 to 5 miles round trip, allow at least an hour, easy to moderate
Disembark the bus at the main entrance to Beaver Run Resort. Proceed west toward the Beaver Run Super Chair. Walk between the building and the chairlift, heading south across the ski run and underneath the Quicksilver lift toward the sign for the Burro Trailhead.
Burro Trail Option: From the sign, follow the Burro Trail along the delightfully bubbling Lehman Creek. Turn around when the mood strikes you, or follow the trail for miles to the Spruce Creek Trail. The Burro Trail is an one of the easy hikes from downtown Breckenridge.
Option Two – Ski Run: A popular option is to hike up the ski run on your right/west, travelling underneath the Quicksilver lift. The first hill is steep, but the path flattens out at the top and rewards you with sweeping views of Breckenridge and the Continental Divide. Horses from the Breckenridge Stables can be seen ahead. Turn around when you’ve had enough.
River Trail from Rec Center to Colorado Mountain College
Bus Route: Gray Route Northside to Rec Center Bus Stop
Length: 1.3 miles one way, allow an hour or so, easy
Amble downstream along the Blue River soaking in the sounds of rushing water and birds calling, and watch for wildflowers and fishermen. To get there, 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. After about a mile and a quarter, you’ll see Colorado Mountain College on your left/west. Get close to the ski lift towers to find the asphalt path that takes you to the campus. The bus stop is in front of the building. Take the bus back to the Rec Center or the Breck Station Transit Center to complete your journey. You can also do this trail in reverse by taking the Gray Route bus to Colorado Mountain College and returning to the Rec Center by following the trail upstream.
Iowa Hill Trail
Bus Route: Gray Route Northside to Breck Terrace #1 Bus Stop
Length: 1.50 mile loop, allow 1.5 – 2 hours, more difficult
The trail meanders past interesting historic sites and mining artifacts so you might not even notice how much elevation you are gaining. Numerous interpretive signs along the way teach more about hydraulic mining innovations developed at Iowa Hill. Spur 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. To get there from the bus stop, stay on the sidewalk heading north a short distance until you see the Iowa Hill Trailhead sign and cross the street. Follow the dirt road 100 yards north to the trailhead. Talk about hiking in Breckenridge without a car!
French Gulch to Wellington Trail
Bus Route: Purple Route A or B
Length: .75 mile loop with options, allow an hour, easy
Relics of Depression-era gold-seeking, cobbled together from old truck beds and scavenged mining parts, can be seen from the trail. Heading east, enjoy stunning views of the Breckenridge Ski Area. For a longer option, use the French Gulch bus stop as a jumping off point for the trail network system in French Gulch, starting at the B&B Trailhead, about .25 mile past the Country Boy Mine. To enjoy these sights, disembark the bus at the French Gulch turn-around and proceed on the gravel path to the east. Turn right at the green gate and take the old road south to the gravel Wellington Trail. Travel east on the trail along French Creek to the driveway for the Country Boy Mine. Continue east for further explorations, loop back by walking down French Gulch Road to the bus stop, or return the way you came.
Longer Option Westbound: Return west on the Wellington Trail past the Wellington Neighborhood, about .75 miles through spruce forest and intimate meadows. Turn right at Stables Road and connect to the bus at the Lincoln Park stop or across the street at the Little Red Schoolhouse stop.
Blue River Trailhead
189 Boreas Pass Rd
Fun Fact: The Blue River Trail is a great trail for spotting wildflowers.
542 French Gulch Rd
Fun Fact: The B&B Trail leads to some of the most historic mining areas in all of Breckenridge.
Beaver Run to Ski Run or Burro Trail
Fun Fact: The Burro Trail runs parallel to Peak 9 at Breckenridge Ski Resort.
River Trail from the Rec Center
Fun Fact: This section of the River Trail is an extremely popular spot for fishermen.
Iowa Hill Trail
Fun Fact: Iowa Hill is situated around 12,000 feet altitude just below treeline.