Fall is coming to Summit County and what better way to celebrate than to share my top 5 favorite hikes in the area! Cooler weather, smaller crowds, and the changing color of our infamous aspen trees provide pristine hiking conditions in Summit County during the fall. Be sure to bring layers on any hike this fall because temperatures can rapidly drop at higher elevations. However, with the smaller crowds, you won’t mind the cooler temperatures as you’ll have plenty of space to soak in the sun and gorgeous views. My top five hikes in Summit County this Fall feature beautiful vistas of the ten-mile range or Lake Dillon, as well as spots where you will see beautiful yellow aspen leaves from near and far.
#1. Aspen Alley
As the name suggests, this hike is perfect for viewing the changing color of the aspen trees! This hike is rated as a moderate 2.6 mile out and back. Elevation gain on this hike is just over 500 ft over the 1.3 miles uphill half of the hike. Along the way, there are leftover mining relics from an old operation that existed in the area that can be seen from the trail. Starting the hike at the bottom is often preferred, but be prepared to begin the hike with switchbacks. After the switchbacks, the trail continues into a pine tree forest. Parking at the bottom of the hike is often preferred and can be found at the Breckenridge Sawmill Museum. There is also parking at the Boreas Pass trailhead lot at the top of the hike. The trail is shared with mountain bikers, so keep an eye out for bikes coming down the hill from above.#2. Quandary Peak
As one of the three 14ers (mountains over 14,000 ft) in Summit County, this hike is a challenge for hikers of all levels. An out and back hike of 6.6 miles, over 3,300 feet of elevation is gained in just over three miles. Whew! Although this hike is not for the faint of heart, the views are worth the burn you’ll feel in your legs. Parking at Quandary trailhead is by reservation or a new shuttle runs from Airport Lot in Breckenridge free of charge. To make a parking reservation, reserve here: www.parkquandary.com. From the summit of Quandary Peak, you’ll have 360 views of the aspen trees below and maybe even a mountain goat along the way! Be sure to bring plenty of water, sunscreen, and reliable hiking shoes.
#3. Sapphire Point
As the first easy hike on the trail, the views do not disappoint. This hike is great for the whole family or for those who are unable to take on changes of elevation. Sapphire Point Overlook Trail is a 0.6 mile out and back along Swan Mountain Road. This spot is heavily trafficked so going outside of peak hours is highly recommended. Gorgeous views of Lake Dillon, the Ten Mile Range, the Gore Range, and aspens in the fall can be seen from here! This overlook can’t be missed and is a perfect stopover when heading to another hike or restaurant across the county. The drive along Swan Mountain Road is also a treat for passengers with constantly changing views.#4. South Illinois Creek Trail
This 1.9 miles out and back trail is a great option when looking for a hike for the whole family and your furry best friend. With only 285 feet of elevation gain, this easy hike has rewarding views on the Breckenridge ski resort and beautiful aspens. This is also a great hike once the snow starts falling in late fall; you may need to bring along snowshoes if hiking after a big snow. This hike leaves from the Breckenridge Ice Rink which is also where the infamous troll is located. Hike as far as you’d like before turning back on this trail or continue on to Aspen Alley from the end of this trail to extend your hike!
#5. Pence Miller Trail
Looking to see aspen trees while on your mountain bike? The Pence Miller Trail is a popular bike trail from the town of Breckenridge that connects the town to the Peaks Trail. As the trail heads uphill, groves of pine and aspen trees provide plenty of shade as views of Breckenridge and Baldy mountain peep through the trees. The trail follows a historic flume ditch until it reaches the Peaks Trail. Continue on to the Peaks Trail for an extended ride or turn around at the top of the trail for a 2.2-mile singletrack ride. Don’t forget your helmet!
Enjoy your time seeing the beautiful yellow aspen leaves this fall! Be sure to contact me if you’re interested in making Summit County your full-time home or mountain escape!