Meet Your Mountains: Hiking guide to Bald Mountain (a.k.a. Baldy) near Breckenridge
By the Numbers
Mileage: roughly 4.5 miles (one way)
Time: 6-8 hours
Elevation gain: 3,035 feet
Getting there: At the southern town limits of Breckenridge, turn left on Boreas Pass Road (County Road 10). Follow Boreas Pass Road for approximately 2 miles. Turn left onto Baldy Road (County Road 528) and travel 1.4 miles to what looks like a hairpin turn (at the intersection with County Road 536), park here or turn onto Baldy Road and continue driving on rough 4WD road.
Welcome to Meet Your Mountains, a hiking guide series covering four iconic peaks found just outside your back door in Summit County. Read on for locals route guides to: Peak One in Frisco, Buffalo Mountain near Silverthorne, and Bald Mountain (aka Mount Baldy) and mysterious Mount Guyot outside of Breckenridge.
As a local of Summit County, I feel like I have a close relationship with Bald Mountain. He feels like an old friend to me. Baldy’s like that distant cousin that somehow makes it into the fringes of every family photograph in your possession. He’s such a prominent peak that he easily sneaks into your daily commute, your weekend hike or even into the windowpane at the restaurant you’re eating at.
Naturally, hiking old Baldy was a great satisfaction. I knew from word of mouth that Bald wasn’t too hard of a hike. It wasn’t necessarily as popular as Quandary — where the trail’s parking lot is completely filled by 8 a.m. — but it wouldn’t be as much route-finding as Mount Guyot. I would saying, laughingly, that finding Bald Mountain’s trailhead parking lot is harder than finding your way to the top of that mountain.
The neighborhoods behind Breckenridge can feel like a maze, so don’t become too flustered when you start going in circles trying to find this trailhead. At least you now have some warning. I have a Subaru Crosstrek, and I tested her courage on the road up to Baldy. I drove less than a half-mile up the road, before bagging the idea completely.
Turning around, I parked at the Baldy parking area in front of a set of condos. I hit the 4WD road and said to my hiking buddy Oliver, “Now, let’s try this again.” The first hour of our trek was simply a nice morning jaunt — very different, we would find, from the class 2 rock scrambling we’d do later on the last portion of the approach to Baldy’s summit.
The road was a trail for giants. Instead of the normal singletrack type trail we were used to, we hiked along this wide road for over an hour. We left the residential area behind, passing nice homes and old mining buildings. Quickly, we were gaining elevation and the earlier sights were far below us now. Time passed rapidly up on Baldy, but with nonchalance and grace.
During the first two hours of our hike up Baldy, there was a joyful contrast of Colorado bluebird sky and the most friendly clouds one could have imagined. The sage brush and tall grass in the alpine meadows swayed gently in the wind, the crickets and grasshoppers were flying through the air — occasionally brushing against our legs as they crossed our paths — and wild mushrooms covered the sidelines of the trail. At one point, despite the plentiful bugs, we reclined in the grass just to watch the clouds go by and listen to the wind and bugs, at my request.
Baldy is actually a lush mountaintop, giving a deceptive air to its name. Or were we just making assumptions early on? We’d later find out exactly why Bald Mountain got its name. From the time we left tree line and really starting gaining elevation, we could see Mount Guyot looming above the horizon. We could see the old mining cabin that rests just below the boulder yard that makes up Guyot.
From Baldy’s top, the little cabin was merely a speck. The contours and steepness of Guyot were so clearly visible from Baldy, making our ascent of it the day before even more rewarding. It’s a mountain that demands respect, just as Baldy does. Meanwhile, we’d been passed by several vehicles, one of which was a Honda Civic. I laughed loudly when I saw that little sedan creeping up the 4WD road. “Maybe I should have kept driving the Subaru,” I thought. A couple of Jeeps ascended the mountain with ease.
To those of us on foot, the trek wasn’t getting any easier. Actually the opposite, Baldy’s route was just now turning into a legitimate trail. There’s an old wooden fence that unofficially signifies the start of the rugged portion of the trail. Rocky outcroppings and false summits galore were to come from this point on. We took a couple detours, playing like kids on these stony knobs and rock shelves.
Less friendly clouds began to roll in, so we had to return to “serious” hiking mode. “Look at the false summits,” I said to Oliver. We suddenly were missing the easy amble up Baldy on the 4WD and would have quickly opted to have that type of trail continue all the way up the mountain’s bald facade. Smooth in appearance from town below, Bald was extremely rough and rugged right before your eyes.
The approach to Baldy’s summit was one of the most fun, yet challenging, approaches to a mountain I had tried yet in Colorado. It required balance, coordination and focus, not to mention the occasional reaching down with both hands to steady myself. I put the camera away, using only my body and mind to tackle this mountain. There was equal exposure on Baldy as we’d experienced on Guyot, but slightly different.
On Baldy, it was a bit more sheer on both sides. On Guyot, we experienced more shifty rocks and uneven surfaces, as opposed to intimidating precipices. When we finally reached the summit, loud hollering emanated from both of us. Finally, we’d tackled this gentle giant that had been looming on the fringes of our daily lives for so long. It was well worth the wait: Stunning views in every direction we looked, towards the Gore Range, the Tenmile Range, the steep mountains near Hoosier Pass and far beyond.
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