4 ways to get outside this holiday weekend
High-Alpine, golden-valley activities that would make Woody Guthrie hum
DILLON — While out for a run and listening to music on the Oro Grande trail on Wednesday, July 1, a cover of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land” played on shuffle. Typically, the more energizing a song the better when running Oro Grande’s rolling path on the slope of Tenderfoot Mountain. But with singer Matthew Houckbreathe’s delicate finger-picking against the ethereal high-pitched organ backdrop, I let this song breathe.
Ahead of this Fourth of July holiday in Summit County, the musical moment manifested a surreal star-spangled sensibility while looking out at the sunset behind the Gore Range.
In honor of Guthrie’s timeless American folk classic, I’ve thought up four recreation options — and a Rocky Mountain Americana playlist — that reflect the images of independence Guthrie wrote of in several memorable lines from his 1944 recording.
‘As I went walking that ribbon of highway …‘
This line elicits an image of hikers walking a rocky ridge high above tree line. A local mountain trail accessible to most hikers that has a great feel of walking on an undulating ridgeline is the 13,684-foot Bald Mountain, or Baldy. If you’re able to secure a parking spot at the top of Boreas Pass Road at the Continental Divide, hiking along the ribbon-like ridge of Baldy via Black Powder Pass to the summit is about 2,600 feet of elevation gain over six round-trip miles.
To do the Baldy Mountain hike, drive up Boreas Pass Road, accessed near the Stephen C. West Ice Arena on the southern end of Breckenridge. Boreas Pass Road soon becomes a dirt road, but most passenger cars won’t have an issue ascending it to the pass. To boot, it provides great views of surrounding mountains through canopies of aspen trees.
If you are unable to park at the lot at the top of the pass, there are pullouts on the way up Boreas Pass Road where you can stash your vehicle, just known this will add distance to your hike.
As for the hike itself, from the top of Boreas Pass the climb along the Continental Divide to Black Powder Pass is a fun singletrack trail. At Black Powder Pass, where you’ll turn left to gain the Bald Mountain ridgeline, you’ll go from a moderate hike to more of a classic Rocky Mountain rock scramble.
That said, the cairns — or rock piles — that will keep you going in the right direction are not too difficult to pick out as you traverse the trail in the not-so-loose scree. And if you don’t want to go all the way to Baldy’s third and final true summit, you can top out at one of the earlier summits and call it a day to turn around to your car.
Start early and budget five to seven hours depending on your fitness level.
‘I saw above me that endless skyway …‘
This evokes the sights of traveling up and down Vail Pass at the high-Alpine divide between Summit and Eagle counties. Numerous bike shops offer shuttled bike trips up to the pass at 10,666 feet. The downhill ride back on the county recpath has stellar views of the surrounding snow-capped peaks, namely the imposing avalanche chutes of Tenmile Canyon.
Vail Pass shuttle rentals will come with all the gear you need, as whatever bike shop you choose will shuttle you in a van the 12-20 miles from their shop to the top of the Vail Pass portion of the county recreation path. From there back down to Main Street Frisco, the two-lane recpath will have you moderately descend about 1,500 feet of elevation over just about a dozen miles. Without breaks, the ride into Frisco should take about an hour or so as you pass by wildflowers and potentially wildlife. You’ll also get a view from above of all Copper Mountain Resort has to offer.
If departing from Breckenridge, depending on how daunting you want your adventure day to be, you can ride the recpath back to Breck. Or you can choose to shuttle back to town from Frisco, either via bike shop van or via the Summit Stage public bus.
‘Saw below me that golden valley …‘
If you want that golden-valley feel in Summit, a fishing trip accessed through the tiny, lakefront ranching town of Heeney will give you that sensibility. Numerous fishing outfitters here in the county offer different angling experiences along the Blue River Valley, from Heeney south to Breckenridge. These include various wade-and-walk options on popular angling spots throughout the valley. The Blue River is known to have solid rainbow and brown trout fishing at select honey holes this time of year.
That said, if you’re really looking for frontier-like American adventure, a guided float-fishing trip on the Colorado River at put-ins near Kremmling will have you humming Guthrie’s tune in no time. The Colorado River is north of Summit, but this is the go-to spot for float-fishing for local anglers.
Afterward, you can stick around Kremmling for the town’s fireworks show, which is shot off the cliffs adjacent to the town square. They usually begin once it’s dark enough after 9 p.m. There’s no fee, and the show in the sky 35 miles north of Silverthorne can be viewed from parking spots throughout town. Plan to arrive well before the show to secure a proper parking spot.
‘When the sun come shining, then I was strolling …‘
Come sunrise Saturday or Sunday, stroll on your skateboard, scooter or rollerblades at one of Summit County’s skateparks. The acclaimed outdoor parks in Breckenridge and Frisco provide views of majestic mountains all around while you find transition flowing between park features. In Breckenridge, the park can be accessed from the Breck Recreation Center parking lot.
Over in Frisco, the town’s 1-year-old skate park has attracted many a talented skater to the Frisco Adventure Park at the Frisco Peninsula Recreation Area. The sprawling 28,000-foot skate park adjacent to the lodge is known for its crown-jewel flow bowl that easily connects all skaters, from novice to advanced, to different portions of the park.
Along with those free town parks, Woodward Copper at Copper Mountain Resort will open a new “Barnyard” outdoor setup. This year, the Barnyard will have an expanded footprint and also incorporate some new features including a new pump track and dirt jumps for BMX. The Barnyard also includes features geared toward skateboarding and scooter and offers progression features that allow riders to build on their skills. For more information, visit CopperColorado.com
Rocky Mountain Americana playlist
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