Where to Hike the Colorado Continental Divide Near Breckenridge

Where to Hike on the Continental Divide Near Breckenridge, Colorado

Hiking the Continental Divide near Breckenridge, Colorado, is a unique experience that blends stunning scenery and outdoor activities with a taste of history. This natural boundary splits the watersheds flowing towards the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, offering a grand perspective of the American landscape. With several access points near Breckenridge, hikers of all levels can find a trail that matches their skills and interests.

So, grab your gear, pack plenty of water, and let's explore these iconic trails!

Hoosier Pass: A Historical Crossing

Hiker on Hoosier Pass Trail

Hoosier Pass is a great starting point if you're looking for a moderately challenging hike with some historical flair. 

Getting There and Trail Options

Located just south of Breckenridge on Highway 9, the pass is easily accessible by car year-round. The Hoosier Pass Loop is a popular choice, a 3.8-mile roundtrip hike with stunning views of the surrounding peaks and valleys. We often recommend this trail for families and those new to hiking at higher altitudes—Hoosier Pass’ elevation is 11,542 feet above sea level. If you’re looking for things to do with your dog, leashed pets are welcome here.

Historical Significance

As you hike the Hoosier Pass Loop, imagine the footsteps of early explorers and miners who once walked this path. The pass played a vital role during the Gold Rush era, and you might even stumble upon old mining remnants.

Have you ever wondered how Hoosier Pass got its name? Miners looking for their fortunes traditionally named geographic areas after their home states, and many of the first gold prospectors crossing over this pass in the 1860s were from Indiana, the “Hoosier State.”  The Fremont Expedition first crossed this pass in 1844, but its modern name comes from the miners.

Loveland Pass: An Adventurous Drive and Hike

Loveland Pass Sign Showing 11,990-foot Elevation

Topping out at nearly 12,000 feet and featuring a road with narrow turns and steep grades, just getting to the Loveland Pass trails is an adventure in itself! The road is the highest road in the country that’s kept open year-round.

Scenic Drive and Hiking Opportunities

Loveland Pass, northeast of Breckenridge on Highway 6, is a paradise for outdoor lovers. The drive itself is a thrill, with winding roads and jaw-dropping views. For hikers, the challenging terrain pays off with panoramic views that will take your breath away. The best time to visit? We're partial to summer when the wildflowers are in full bloom, adding a vibrant touch to the landscape.

Historical Background

The pass is named after William A.H. Loveland, a visionary who dreamed of building a railway over the Continental Divide. Although his railway never came, his constructed road became a crucial transportation link. As you hike the Loveland Pass trails, take a moment to appreciate the ambition and ingenuity of those who came before.

Boreas Pass: A Scenic Journey Through History

Cyclist on Boreas Pass Near Shock Hill, Breckenridge

Boreas Pass was one of the first routes into Breckenridge, and the history is evident. You can also see some spectacular fall colors.

Accessing Boreas Pass and Seasonal Activities

Boreas Pass Road, east of Breckenridge, is a scenic byway that offers a glimpse into the region's rich past. As a summer attraction, you can drive, bike, or hike along the road, enjoying views of the surrounding peaks and forests. When winter arrives, the road closes to vehicles and transforms into a snowy playground for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. We frequently see photographers capturing the winter wonderland along Boreas Pass, with snow-covered trees and glistening landscapes.

Rich History and Landmarks

As you explore Boreas Pass, you'll encounter remnants of the old narrow-gauge railroad that once crossed the Continental Divide. The Section House, a historic building at the summit, is a testament to the area's past. In the winter, it serves as a cozy hut for overnight stays, offering a unique experience for adventurous souls. The Bakers Tank, a giant rust-red water tank from the railroad days, serves as a landmark for the Bakers Tank Loop, an additional trail you can access from Boreas Pass.

All in all, Boreas Pass is considered one of the best hikes near Breckenridge.

Georgia Pass: An Off-Road Adventure

View from Georga Pass on the Colorado Continental Divide

Georgia Pass is considered the most difficult of the Continental Divide trails near Breckenridge. The area's history is a bit murky, but it’s a fair guess that it was named by Gold Rush miners from Georgia. One thing’s for sure, though: if you’re looking for adventurous things to do in Breckenridge, conquering Georgia Pass should be on your list.

Reaching Georgia Pass and Difficulty Level

Georgia Pass is a true off-road adventure, requiring a high-clearance four-wheel-drive vehicle, mountain bike, or hoofing it on foot to reach its summit. If you're up for the challenge, you'll be rewarded with stunning views and a sense of solitude. We often hear from experienced hikers that Georgia Pass offers a more remote and rugged experience than the other Continental Divide trails near Breckenridge.

Exploring the Wilderness

The Georgia Pass area is a wildlife lover's dream, with chances to spot elk, moose, and other alpine animals. The trails are less traveled, making it a perfect escape for those seeking quiet. Snowmobiling is a popular winter activity, offering a thrilling way to explore the snowy terrain.

Additional Resources for Planning Your Hike

Trail Maps and Information:

  • The Breckenridge Welcome Center is a great starting point for hikers of all levels. It offers free trail maps and information on trail conditions, parking, and other amenities.
  • Online resources such as AllTrails and HikingProject provide detailed trail maps and updates on current conditions.
  • Be sure to check the trail's difficulty level before you start hiking, and choose a trail appropriate for your fitness level and experience.

Weather Conditions:

  • Mountain weather can change quickly, so checking the forecast before hiking is essential.
  • Be prepared for all types of weather, including rain, snow, wind, and thunderstorms.
  • Dress in layers and wear sturdy, waterproof footwear.
  • Bring a raincoat, poncho, and a hat and gloves to protect yourself from the sun and wind. And rain, of course.

Gear and Supplies:

  • Pack essentials like sturdy footwear, layers of clothing, plenty of water, snacks, sunscreen, and a hat.
  • It's also wise to bring a map and compass or GPS device.
  • If you're hiking in Bear Country, bring bear spray and know how to use it.

Safety Precautions:

  • Always let someone know your hiking plans, including your route and expected return time.
  • Be aware of potential wildlife encounters, such as bears, mountain lions, and moose.
  • It's also a good idea to carry a first-aid kit and have basic wilderness first-aid skills.
  • Hike with a friend or group, and stay on marked trails.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and look for hazards such as loose rocks, slippery surfaces, and steep drop-offs.

Your Next Continental Divide Adventure Awaits!

With its stunning scenery, rich history, and diverse trails, the Continental Divide near Breckenridge offers something for every hiker. From gentle paths meandering through wildflower meadows to strenuous climbs scaling rugged peaks, the Continental Divide in and around Summit County offers an unforgettable hiking experience for every adventurer. Whether you seek a stroll or a challenging trek, the stunning scenery, rich history, and diverse trails of the Continental Divide near Breckenridge will captivate your senses and create lasting memories. So, embrace the call of the mountains and embark on your next hiking adventure today!

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