Hiking hills or mountains
Surrounded by vast forests and wilderness areas, Summit County has no shortage of trails for visitors seeking entertainment and views by foot. There are a variety of trails to meet all needs – from the tourist looking for a casual, scenic stroll, to the more serious hiker or backpacker. While all trails have their own individual beauty, many provide hikers with spectacular views of the county, Lake Dillon and the surrounding mountain peaks. Short and easy trail Old Dillon Reservoir and Lily Pad Lakes trails are two options for those hoping to avoid long, difficult hikes while still seeking majestic views.
Those short on time or energy will enjoy the approximately one-mile hike to Old Dillon Reservoir. The trail is located south of Interstate 70, between the highway and the Dam Road. Exit I-70 at the east Frisco/Breckenridge exit and take an immediate left at the light, onto the Dam Road.
The road follows the northern edge of Dillon Reservoir, and the trail head is on the north side of the road, just before the dam. There is a short – but not too steep hill – to get to Old Dillon Reservoir, but once there, hikers are rewarded with 360 degree views – Lake Dillon below, and mountains all around the valley. The Lily Pad Lakes are in Eagle’s Nest Wilderness – an area which encompasses the stunning Gore Range west of Silverthorne, east of Vail and north of Frisco. To access, exit I-70 at Silverthorne, heading north on Hwy. 9. Take a left on Wildernest Road (by the 7-Eleven) and follow the road up the hill. Hikers can park at the top of the hill, on Ryan Gulch Circle, where the trail begins.
The trail to the lakes is fairly flat, and approximately two miles round-trip. Lily Pad lake is named appropriately, as it is covered with lily pads. Hikers who wish to continue will find another lake up the trail. Make sure to walk around the lake for views of the Ten Mile Range above Frisco, and Buffalo Mountain to the north. Long and more challenging trails The Gore Range easily is the most stunning, rugged range in Summit County. The mountains are named after an Irish nobleman, Sir St. George Gore, who led a hunting expedition in the area, over 100 years ago. The range is located within Eagles Nest Wilderness area, which offers a number of challenging day hikes or backpacking options.
The Wheeler Trail is a six-mile round-trip hike to the Wheeler Lakes – a nice destination for picnickers and campers alike. From the lakes, hikers can continue on the Gore Range Trail (which is 54.5 miles long) to add miles and new scenery, exiting on a variety of trails. Doing so will require a shuttle, however, so be sure to plan your exit trail before beginning your trip. The hike to Wheeler Lakes will take hiking enthusiasts through sagebrush, aspen and lodgepole pine forests. The trail can be steep at times, but the views are spectacular. There are several campsites available in the meadow and forest area surrounding the two lakes, which are popular with fishermen.
To park, exit I-70 at Copper Mountain, driving to the south side of the highway.Turn left on the frontage road (toward the Conoco gas station) and park near the bike path trailhead. To access the trailhead, hikers need to cross I-70 at the overpass. The trail begins at the “no parking” sign, off the exit ramp.
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