The Ultimate Guide to Breckenridge Fall Colors

Fall in Breckenridge is an incredible time to enjoy fall colors Golden yellow aspen leaves, Colorado blue sky and snow topped mountains are so beautiful in Breckenridge that it almost hurts your eyes. Especially when backlit by the long reach of the autumn sun, aspens radiate light and warmth, extending the sensation of summer days. Get the most of your Breckenridge aspen-viewing with these options for hiking, biking and driving.

Leaf peeping: An activity in which people travel to view and photograph the fall colors in areas where leaves change colors in autumn

French Gulch Area east of Town

Breckenridge trees changing color on a hillside during fall.
Red, Yellow, Green. This natural rainbow of colors is a common sight each fall.

Colorado’s aspen trees are renowned for their distinctive golden yellow color that contrasts so vividly with our deep blue skies. Oranges and reds are uncommon in the autumnal aspen forest, except in French Gulch east of Breckenridge. Here the minerals in the soil create burnished reds and coppery orange leaves among the forests of yellow creating fun diversity in the fall colors.

Drive:

A short drive up French Gulch Road rewards with dazzling displays of fiery colors surrounding historic mines and abandoned town sites. The dirt road is graded and passable by most vehicles. In addition to profuse aspen forests, you’ll pass many old mines, including the Country Boy Mine, available for tours, the Reiling Dredge and the Lincoln Townsite. At the end of the maintained road at the marked trailhead, about 5 miles from town, park and hike up Sallie Barber or French Gulch Road. If you have high clearance 4WD and a lot of fortitude, you can explore the Humbug Hill jeep road. Turn around at the trailhead and enjoy the fall colors views of the Breckenridge Ski Area as you journey westward back to town.

Directions:  Take Wellington Road east from Main Street to the three-way intersection with Reiling Road and French Gulch Road. Continue east on French Gulch Road. The pavement ends just after the Wellington Neighborhood.

Hike/Bike:

Find amazing fall colors at the first trailhead along French Gulch Road is B&B on the south side of the road. Park here to access a network of hiking and easy biking trails offering loop and out-and-back options. Check out the posted map for trail options in the area.

X10U8 (Extenuate) and Minnie Mine loop:  Across from the B&B Trailhead is the X10U8 Trail. In the afternoon, travel counter-clockwise so you are high on the hill facing the backlit aspens as you circle west along the Minnie Mine trail to complete the loop. Mine sites, interpretive signs and interesting diversions add local flavor to the trail.

B&B Trail: The shady side of the valley means spruce and pine forests, but the views across to the aspen groves make this a worthwhile hike or bike. Loop over to the Minnie Mine trail from the Reiling Dredge.

 

Boreas Pass Area

Boreas Pass Road in Fall with aspen foliage
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. A tunnel of trees makes a canopy of yellow over some sections as you make your way up the dirt road heading east from town.

Drive

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 will be on the Continental Divide. The historic Section House at the pass is a ski hut in the winter, available for overnight reservations.

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 Bakers Tank Trail, or continue driving.

Hike/Bike

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.

Make a Loop of It: Boreas Pass to Fairplay to Hoosier Pass

Fall trees changing colors in Breckenridge.
Fall in the high country is short and sweet. While it’s impossible to determine exactly when the leaves will change, historically, mid-September is the most vibrant.

Following the abandoned railroad grade, Boreas Pass road terminates in Como, but not before traversing miles of golden aspen forests with distant views across the open grazing lands of South Park. From Como, drive US Highway 285 south toward Fairplay, with sunny yellow aspen forests all along the route. In Fairplay, take a break at the South Park City Museum where you’ll learn more about early railroading and life in a western mining camp. From Fairplay, follow Colorado Highway 9 north to Alma where the valley of the Middle Fork of the South Platte River is lined with extensive aspen forests. Complete the journey back to Breckenridge by heading up and over Hoosier Pass where you can stand again on the Continental Divide and take in the views of the Blue River valley. Allow several hours for this 55 mile loop.

Aspen Viewing in Town – Hike or Bike:

Fall trees and river in Breckenridge.
Main Street is surrounded by beauty from its mountain backdrop to the tranquil Blue River lined by Aspen trees.

Pence Miller Ditch from Town Overlook:  The miners moved a lot of water around the mountains for their mining endeavors, leaving a web of ditch trails for our aspen-viewing enjoyment. The Pence Miller Ditch circles Shock Hill, offering a variety of views and micro-climates as it meanders through an aspen forest. Park at the Town Overlook on Ski Hill Road, and look for the trailhead sign across the road underneath the Gondola. The trail switchbacks steeply before reaching the mostly-flat ditch. Proceed north for the best views of fall colors.

Carter Park to Jacks Cruel Joke: From Carter Park on High Street, climb the sledding hill to the ditch trail at the top, then proceed south to find massive spruce trees and aspen canopies over the trail. Jacks Cruel Joke is a steep hiking and biking trail that switchbacks down through the aspen forest with outstanding views of the Ten Mile Range and the Breckenridge Ski Area, before looping back to Carter Park on the Sunbeam Trail.

By Breck Editorial

The Breckenridge Tourism Office works to enhance and promote the unique character and experience of Breckenridge as a world-renowned destination resort and to represent, serve and perpetuate the common interest and character of its membership and community.

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