Thursday, August 5, 2010

Gold Hill Trailhead, Breckenridge Colorado

I had planned on hiking in Breckenridge this week because my favorite band was playing a show at 320 South on a Wednesday night.  Not only is the band, The Bridge, my favorite band, but my cousin plays saxophone in the group and I get to see him whenever they are in town.  My plan was to get up early, work for a few hours, then drive to Frisco to set up my tent and pick up my cousin and his band mates for a short hike before they had to set up for their show.   This all worked out well, except I left my directions for the hike I had planned on doing at my house, of course!  Fortunately the Frisco/Breckenridge area has tons of trails that are obviously visible from highway 9 that we were able to find quickly with our limited time frame and we were able to hike at Gold Hill Trailhead. 

Getting there:  From I-70 take exit 203 to Frisco and continue South on Highway 9 toward Breckenridge for approx 6 miles.  This trailhead is 1/4 mile north of Tiger Run (a road, small subdivision, and trailer/camping park are well signed) a few miles north of Breckenridge. From Gold Hill, the trail starts uphill both directions, but a clockwise loop gives a fun downhill for the last two miles of the run. The trailhead is signed (but very close to the tight turnoff) on the west side of highway 9. 
An alternate place to pick up this trailhead is in downtown Breckenridge, take a turn west at the stoplight in the middle of town (ski hill road) and drive up past the ski area base. You'll take two more switchbacks past the parking lots, and start heading downhill; the parking area, for about 10 cars, is on the left (north) side of the road.  
There are no bathrooms at the Gold Hill trailhead and no trail maps either.  The trail is wide and fairly well marked, and if you continue on this trail it will take the hiker 13.8 miles over the continental divide and 3 mountain passes to finish at the Wheeler Flats parking lot near Copper Mountain. 
The Journey:  I left my house later than usual, which is turning into the norm for me lately, and drove out to Frisco for my first solo camping trip and first Bridge show by myself.  It was a beautiful sunny day and I was really excited to enjoy the festivities that night.  I arrived in Frisco around 2pm and quickly went to Peak One Campground to find my campsite and set up my tent.  I wanted to get this done and over with so that I could enjoy the rest of the afternoon.  After setting up, I drove the 2 miles to the band's hotel in Frisco and picked up my cousin and three of the other guys for a hike at Gold Hill.
Views of Breckenridge and Quandry Peak
Gold Hill was a fairly busy trailhead at 4pm on a Wednesday afternoon; and I expect it is very busy on the weekends.  We parked and I took a quick look at the sign before we started walking.  The trail starts uphill and the first thing that I noticed were the number of colorful wildflowers lining the trail and meadows.  Colorado wildflowers are in peak season in the middle of the summer in the high elevation and this year they have been particularly beautiful.  The trail then continues into the woods where there had been a previous burn and the underbrush was bright and colorful compared to the dark blackened trees.  
Eventually the trail comes out to a vista point which views Dillon Reservoir and continues in the woods to our stopping point.  We noticed a small side trail to the left and walked to the end which ended in a beautiful vista with a handmade two person swing.  The swing was obviously made from fallen trees in the area and it was a really unique find on the hike that I have never seen before. 
Dillon Res in the distance
After checking out the views for a little while, the band needed to get back to the hotel to get ready for their show.  We started back down the trail which was full of chipmunks and gray squirrels that taunted my dog Rock and kept her busy during the hike back down.  We made it down just as the clouds started to get dark above us and just after I dropped the guys off at the hotel it started raining.  I had planned on going back to my tent, cooking dinner, enjoying the campsite, reading a book, and sitting in the sun.  Instead, I cooked dinner as fast as possible before the rain started pouring down and I ate in my tent without my book. 
At about 9pm I drove to Breckenridge and enjoyed several hours of great music and friends before heading back to the tent for a soggy night and early morning.  Read more about my experience in my personal blog here.  I hope to get back to the Gold Hill trailhead to continue this hike, the 13.8 miles out and back is a tempting long weekend hike. 

Click on map for your own personal directions to hike.
The trailhead is just north of the below intersection. You will see it on the west side of the street, there is a sign for the hike, but it's very close to the turnoff. 

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1 comment:

  1. I think it is actually 13.8 miles one way...