Hiking in Breckenridge, Colorado
Brent, a HomeAway staffer, gives us the low-down on hiking out and about in Summit County, Colorado
"Breckenridge, Colorado" usually means winter and skiing in Summit County Colorado. For most people, that's true, but Breckenridge offers a lot to do in the summer as well. Hiking, camping, road cycling, and mountain biking are just some of the things Summit County offers in the non-snowy months.
Oktoberfest is a great time to be in Breckenridge: fun people, tasty beverages, lots of hustle-and-bustle for a small mountain village. However, Summit County is so named for a reason...
Hiking in the High Country is very rewarding. The hike to the Mohawk Lakes is easily accessible from Breckenridge, with the trailhead located about 5 miles south of the town square.
The hike is moderately strenuous - altitude gain is "only" 1,800 feet, but most of that gain is at the end of the 3.5 mile hike. Being in Summit County, is is no surprise that the trailhead elevation is over 10,000 feet, with (upper) Mohawk Lake topping out at 12,120 feet. Bring study shoes, snacks and water. If these kids can do it, so can you:
(the author, back row third from the left, circa 1971)
This meadow is only a mile from the trailhead, framed by tall pine trees stretching to the heavens above. The hike goes over that saddle between the two peaks. At the right time of the year, the we'd be looking at a meadow of columbine wild flowers.
This is right at the base of the major climb. The trail is just barely visible cutting through the rocks to the left of the waterfall. An old mining structure is hidden the the trees about 3/5th from the bottom of the photo, almost in the center from left to right.
In the right time of the year, the trail is covered with Alpine wildflowers. This hike took place in July. I see some paintbrush, some lupines and other flowers. We're on the way to the top of the waterfalls.
Access to the Continental Falls waterfalls is very easy from the main trail. Well worth taking the 1/4 mile side trail to be able to hear the roaring waters.
This is at the top of the waterfall portion of the hike, looking back towards the Ten Mile Range in the distance. The wooden beams form the old mining structure mentioned previously. The large meadow in the right-hand side of the image is the meadow at which we began the hike.
Moving past the mining structure, we get to a relatively easy and flat portion of the trail. We're almost there...
But rest breaks are sometimes necessary. Wildflowers are evident in the foreground, but we're right at the tree line and the pines have given way to shrubbery. The rippling waters here are a great way to wake up during overnight bivouacs.
This is the 1st view of the Lower Mohawk Lake. An old cabin sits on the far shore. Continuing to hike up through that saddle will crest this range and drop the (likely exhausted) hikers into the town of Copper Mountain. Those are snowfields on the back face. This photograph was made in August one year; snow stays around at these altitudes all year.
Try as I might, I cannot find this vacation rental on HomeAway.com, but I'd sure like to hang my boots there some day. Maybe build a fire pit with some blue spruce flaming on the grate in the evening and just pass the time. No telephone lines and no cell service - it is the same story from 100 years ago. The cabin is an old abandoned mining cabin slowly falling apart.
The view from just above the lower Mohawk Lake is spectacular. The 10 Mile Range is off in the distance and the town of Breckenridge sits just to the left and 2000 feet below. The mining cabin peeks above the trees in the middle of the left hand side of the photograph. Upper Mohawk Lake is up and to the right of this photo. The upper lake is mostly surrounded by rocks as the vegetation line falls away and I've found that my time is better spent at the lower lake.