Meet Your Forest: Keystone Ranch area offers fun, variable singletrack |

Meet Your Forest: Keystone Ranch area offers fun, variable singletrack

Wayne and his wife Ruth among the flowers near Crystal Lake.
Special to the Daily |

The Friends of the Dillon Ranger District (FDRD) Board is going to be sharing its favorite Summit County trails. Wayne and his wife Ruth are among members offering their advice. Wayne gives the following:

“Summit County is so blessed with an exciting, diverse trail system for both biking and hiking, but I have to say, for mountain biking out my back door, you just can’t beat the trail system behind Keystone Ranch. If you have only an hour or so, here’s a great loop suitable for riders of many capabilities from strong beginners to advanced riders.

“Drive into Summit Cove’s Whispering Pines neighborhood and park in the small lot across from the elementary school on Cove Boulevard. On your bike, head right down Cove Boulevard around the bend to the second Vail Drive and take a right there. At the bend on Vail Drive, go straight on the short side street and pick up the singletrack trail heading up the hill at the end of the street. You’ll cross Keystone Ranch Road on your way to the Keystone Aqueduct Trail further up the hill. When you hit the Aqueduct Trail, turn right and start rolling through the Keystone Ranch neighborhood with a short stretch of open water in the aqueduct. After a mile or so, the trail climbs into the Forest Service land and becomes the Soda Ridge Trail. It rolls through mostly open meadows filled with wildflowers and great views down valley toward Lake Dillon.

“When you drop down to a gravel road at the old Keystone ranch homestead, head left down the road for a short distance and pick up the Soda Creek Trail on the right. Follow Soda Creek Trail as it crosses over a couple of bridges and meanders back to the Whispering Pines neighborhood with a rolling route through the meadows and woodlands. Moose have been seen recently on this loop, so beware and give them plenty of room if you see them. Total loop distance is about 9.5 miles.

“There are many additional trails and loop possibilities behind the Ranch in addition to this one, so stop by the Forest Service office in Silverthorne and get your hands on one of the several maps for sale there. For biking, one of the best is the map produced by the town of Breckenridge Open Space and Trails.

“Hiking has been exceptional this season because of the spectacular flower displays. A hike my wife, Ruth, and I recently did that has everything but the crowds is the Crystal Lakes hike south of Breckenridge. You park at the same spot as the very popular Spruce Creek/Mohawk Lakes hikes so go early to beat the crowds trying to find parking at the trail heads. From the parking area, head right up a rough four-wheel-drive road, Crystal Lakes Road. Follow the road as it climbs through the forest and eventually gets you above tree line into the alpine meadows with beautiful flowers and views east toward Mount Baldy and the Continental Divide. Enjoy the sounds of rushing Crystal Creek along the way. You’ll find the remains of an old miner’s cabin on the shores of the lower lake and some mining relics from the 1930s. A faint trail on the north side of the valley above the lower lake takes you just under the ridge between Peak 10 and Crystal Mountain to the hidden gem of the upper lake.”

I don’t know about you but I will be adding this trail to my to do list here in Summit. Come out and spend a few hours with FDRD on and for the trails of Summit County.

Jasmine Hupcey is the office and volunteer manager for Friends of the Dillon Ranger District. She can be reached at For more information on the organization and volunteer opportunities, visit

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