Summit County Bike Guide: Flume Trails (video)
By The Numbers
Distance: 1.6 miles (Lower), 2.2 miles (Middle), 3.2 miles (Upper)
Rating: Moderate to advanced
Time: 1-1.5 hours (loop)
Elevation: 9,515-9,916 feet (401 vertical feet)
Type: Loops system, singletrack
Season: Late May to early October
Extensions: Mike’s Trail connector, Slalom, Gold Run Road
The Highlands trail system, better known to locals as the Flumes trails, is a system of singletrack switchbacks and ridges that runs between French Gulch and Gold Run Gulch on the east end of Breckenridge. The system consists primarily of the Upper, Middle and Lower Flume trails, plus short (and steep) connectors like Mike’s Trail in the Highlands neighborhood.
The Flumes system is a stellar early-season ride for beginners and veterans alike, with flowy singletrack and hardly any demanding climbs through quiet neighborhoods overlooking Breckenridge Mountain. The trails are relatively simple, but sections can be filled with jagged rocks and tight aspen stands — keep your eyes up. Also watch for standing water on Middle Flume until mid-June, and be sure to check the mud meter at several road crossing before heading onto Middle and Upper Flume. It’s a bit sloppy right now in the heavily wooded switchbacks on the northern edge of the trail.
A complete map of this trail system is available at the Breckenridge Welcome Center (203 S. Main St.) at (970) 547-3155, located at Breckenridge Town Hall or at area bike shops.
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The three flumes run north-south and can be taken either direction to provide the rider with a fantastic flume and forest experience. To connect from the Lower Flume to the Middle Flume, head left off Highlands Drive. Continue along the Lower Flume until a sign for Mike’s Trail is seen. This trail is quite steep but will take you to the Middle Flume at the first intersection or to the Upper Flume at the second. By following the Middle Flume to the left (north), the trail will wind eastward into the Golden Horseshoe through the Highlands development. Eventually the Middle Flume will join up with the Upper Flume to provide a loop. There are also opportunities from the north end of the trails system to connect with Gold Run Road and other trails in the Golden Horseshoe.
The main access to the Highlands Trail System and Lower Flume is the Recreation Center parking lot, which is located on the west side of Highway 9 at Airport Road. To access the trailhead, ride east across Highway 9 to County Road 450. Take this road 1/4 mile (past the 7-11 and liquor store) to a small trailhead sign on the lefthand side of the road just before a condo complex. The trail weaves past construction before reaching the first ridge, with a connector with Lower Flume and Upper Flume.
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