Most people traveling the nine or so miles between Breckenridge and Frisco make use of Colorado Highway 9 or the bike path that parallels it. But when powered by foot, mountain bike or ski, the Peaks Trail is by far the more scenic answer.
With a trailhead in Frisco, near Miner’s Creek Road, and another in Breckenridge, off Ski Hill Road, the Peaks Trail is about 7.5 miles long and travels along the foot of Peaks 1-7 of the Tenmile Range.
The trail can be followed in either direction. On the Frisco end, users can explore another mile or so around Rainbow Lake. This continuation, along what some locals call the “Little Peaks Trail,” ends at Zach’s Stop, a small parking area at the south end of Third Street in Frisco. The Rainbow Lake section is an excellent option for those seeking a short, easy hike.
Though there are steep sections of the Peaks Trail, overall elevation gain/loss is somewhat tame compared with many trails in the area. When starting in Breckenridge, users can expect about 1,300 feet of elevation loss and about 450 feet of gain overall.
Like many trails in Summit County, access is very easy and users can pick up free public transportation less than a mile from each trailhead. Buses have bike racks in summer and riders toting skis are a common sight in winter. Through hiking the trail, with a return to the car via bus, is the best option.
Summer: Weekends at midday can get busy with mountain bikers and hikers. The same trees that provide wind shelter in winter make for a shaded singletrack ride in summer. The rocks and tree roots are plentiful, which equates to a fun, technical mountain bike ride. Many ride the Peaks Trail in one direction and return via the bike path that follows Colorado Highway 9.
Fall: Early snowfall can end the Peaks Trail mountain biking season, but fall is an excellent time to break out the Yaktrax, a product that attaches to shoe soles to provide traction in snow and ice. Cooler temperatures make for ideal running and hiking weather, but good shoes are best for staying comfortable when the trail gets slushy.
Winter: Cross-country skiers and snowshoers abound on the Peaks Trail. Snowmobiles can sometimes be heard in the distance, but this narrow route through the trees provides a backcountry feeling and excellent protection from the wind in most places.
Spring: The spring thaw can last into July in some parts of Summit County, but mountain bikers are usually traveling the Peaks Trail by late May or June. Snow and slush give way to lush green undergrowth and the melt running from the high peaks of the Tenmile Range typically makes wildflowers last into July. Look for bright yellow arnica varieties.
If You Go
Transportation Parking is available at or near the trailheads. From Breckenridge, drive up Ski Hill Road until it turns to dirt; parking is on the left. From Frisco, take County Road 1000 from the County Commons south toward Bill’s Ranch. Parking is available just before a gate; continue on the paved bike path to a dirt road (Miner’s Creek Road). The trailhead is on the left about a half-mile up the dirt road.
The Summit Stage services the County Commons in Frisco, just off Miner’s Creek Road, and the Breckenridge Free Ride accesses a stop near the trailhead on Peak 7.
0222 County Road 1003, Frisco, Colorado 80443; 970-668-0999.
The buses are free but schedules change between seasons, so check these websites for current information:
Trail Building and Volunteer Opportunities The Summit Fat Tire Society and Friends of the Dillon Ranger District have done much work on the Peaks Trail in the past. Contact either for volunteer projects at their websites:
Rachel Zerowin is a writer and media professional who specializes in the travel and outdoors industries. Read her blog for a taste of life in the mountains of Summit County, Colorado. coloradosummitlife.com