When the air gets crisp and warm summer days come to an end, keep those hiking shoes at the ready. Celebrate fall in Colorado by walking through tunnels of gold in the mountain towns of Breckenridge and Keystone. Before the aspens shed their leaves for the winter, they transform from green to spectacular shades of warm orange, bright golden yellow and deep fiery red. October is the perfect month to catch the fall colors in Colorado in these historic mining towns, so get out on an adventure with one of the top five hikes in Summit County:
Boreas Pass to Aspen Alley (Breckenridge)
Historically, Boreas Pass was a heavily traveled stage route and railroad mountain crossing. Today it features a famous mine and two ghost town sites. There are multiple hikes in this area; however, the locals’ favorite begins atop the Continental Divide and drops down through Aspen Alley. Few places compare to the brilliant Aspen fall colors and aspen tunnels you’ll encounter on Boreas Pass Road and Aspen Alley. Start the hike at the parking area where the road turns from pavement to dirt. You can drive up to the top and hike down for an easier experience. If you’re up for the challenge, hike up from the first switchback on the right as you are climbing Boreas Pass Road. Either way, the views and foliage are gorgeous.
Sallie Barber Mine Trail (Breckenridge)
A true favorite for the entire family, this Colorado trail follows a well-maintained mining road. At the top, you’ll be rewarded with views of the surrounding mountains and a taste of history as you reach the old Sally Barber Mill. The trail begins at the parking area at the end of French Gulch Road. It’s ideal for hikers of any ability, but it’s especially great for kids since it gently climbs to an elevation of 10,700 feet.
Reiling Dredge to B & B (Breckenridge)
Want to strike it rich? Before offering world-class skiing, Breckenridge was known as a gold mining town. Word got out when a big chuck of gold, the size of a small baby, was found in the surrounding hills. Better known as “Tom’s Baby,” it was the largest piece of gold ever to be discovered in Colorado. Today, mining operations have ceased, but remains of the dredging activity can be discovered throughout the surrounding area. Built in the early 1900’s, the Reiling dredge eventually sank into a small pond after operating for many years. No need to pan for gold; just look around at all the golden trees present on the Reiling Dredge hike via the B&B trail. It’s an easy hike to view the ruins of one of the most intact dredge landscapes of its type and best places to visit for fall colors. Be aware: this is a popular mountain biking trail in Colorado, so watch the trail for bikes.
Keystone Old Dillon Reservoir (Keystone)
Back in 1961, the city of Denver decided to create a water storage shed by damning the three rivers: Snake, Blue and Ten Mile. At the time, Dillon’s residents had to move their homes in order to stay standing. Old Dillon Reservoir is a nearby body of water that is accessed by a simple fall hike with 360-degree, expansive views of the Ten Mile Mountain Range and Buffalo Mountain. This nostalgic walk will bring you back to the Old Dillon. Take a picnic lunch and hangout at the lake (or above it for gorgeous views!), a charming body of water that climbs only 140 feet in three quarters of a mile. Directions from Keystone: Take Highway 6 back towards Dillon and turn left onto Dillon Dam Road (CO Rd 7). The Old Dillon Reservoir parking will be on the right several miles down (there are no roads to take you directly to the reservoir).
Oro Grande Trail (Keystone)
Did you know the word “Oro” means gold in Spanish? Hiking Oro Grand Trail makes for an exhilarating outing with all the knockout views hikers love. If you are staying in Keystone, then make this hike top on your list. Look out for wildflowers in bloom. In order to get there from Keystone, travel into Silverthorne. At the stop light at the top of the hill, turn left onto Dillon Drive and make an immediate right onto Country Road #51. There is a parking area right after the big water storage tank. As you wander the trail, look back on Lake Dillon shimmering like a jewel in its mountain setting. You can see all the way south to the Breckenridge ski trails on the Ten Mile Range. The fall hiking trail is an out-and-back that will take you all the way to the shooting range.
For the best places to see fall foliage rush gold, and make your way back to a Summit County rental home.