Breckenridge Bike Guide: French Gulch fall loops (video)
September 23, 2016
SUMMIT COUNTY — French Gulch just might be the best-dressed patch of Breck in the fall.
Found directly east of Breckenridge Resort, the French Gulch system is home to nearly a dozen (and counting) trails that lead from dredge rock piles and abandoned mines to the thickly wooded forests of Baldy Mountain and the Golden Horseshoe area. All of that mining activity disrupted the ground nearly a century ago, and since then huge swaths of aspens have blanketed the hillsides between craggy boulders and evergreen pines.
So sure, the bowls and slopes across the street get all the acclaim come winter, but in that short and sweet fall riding season from mid to late September, few spots are more stunning than French Gulch. (OK, Aspen Alley at the base of Boreas Pass is a close second.)
Oh, and the best part: most of the trails are flat and flowy, with only brief climbs over buffed singletrack.
It's hard to go wrong in French Gulch, but there are smart ways to combine the trails, and then there are strange ways. Here's a look at a favorite loop to get a taste of everything the area has to offer in autumn.
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Begin at B&B trailhead and pedal up B&B trail to Turk's.
Continue on Turk's for about 1.5 miles to the junction with Sallie Barber Road, riding over dredge rock in the final 0.25 miles.
Pedal up Sallie Barber Road for 1.5 miles to the mine overlooking French Gulch. Behind you is Nightmare on Baldy, the first climb of the day.
Take Nightmare on Baldy to the junction with Sweet Dreams and bear left.
Ride Sweet Dreams on flat, flowy singletrack for about 0.75 miles to the junction with Weber Gulch trail, one of the newest in the area.
Take Weber Gulch trail as it switchbacks through the woods for about 1 mile to Trail of Tears, and then back to Sallie Barber Road and the mine.
Time to give you legs a rest with a cruise on smooth dirt road for about 2 miles to the junction of Sallie Barber Road and French Gulch Road.
Take French Gulch Road west (toward Breckenridge) for about 0.5 miles, keeping an eye open for the Wire Patch Trail sign on the right-hand side.
Merge onto Wire Patch Trail for 1.1 miles of brand-new singletrack through dredge rock and aspen groves.
Wire Patch ends at the junction with Humbug Hill (a brutal but beautiful climb) and French Gulch Road.
Get back on the road and ride about 0.5 miles to the Reiling Dredge parking lot and upper Minnie Mine trailhead.
Merge onto Minnie Mine and ride past the X10U8 junction, or bear left for a 0.75-mile descent back to French Gulch Road.
Pedal up Minnie Mine through aspens and past mining relics to the junction with Side Door, found just past a large mine tailing.
Continue on Side Door to Prospect Trail, a looping route that can double back on itself and return to Side Door.
From Side Door, merge back onto Minnie Mine and now take the X10U8 junction. The trail ends at the road just across the street from the B&B parking lot.
X10U8 and the remaining French Gulch trails (Minnie Mine, B&B Trail, Side Door, etc.) are all accesible by French Gulch Road. From Breckenridge, head east on County Road 450, and bear right at the junction with Forest Hills Drive. Continue another 1/2 mile to the stop sign. Take French Gulch Road and continue through the neighborhood until the road turns to dirt. From there, about 1 mile to B&B trailhead parking lot.
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