Summit County Bike Guide: Lake Dillon scenic rec path
Lake Dillon rec path
Distance: 18 miles
Time: 2-4 hours
Elevation: 9,025-9,500 ft. (elevation gain of 500 ft.)
Type: Loop ride, road, paved
Season: April to November
SUMMIT COUNTY — Following a combination of paved trails and roads, the Lake Dillon scenic bike route runs along shorelines, through towns and past marinas on the north end of the lake before taking riders on a challenging trip up Swan Mountain Road. Riders can select dozens of options, but one thing’s for sure: At 18 miles from start to finish, there’s a little something for everyone out there.
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Starting at the east end of Main Street adjacent to the Frisco Marina, this level section of recpath winds along Lake Dillon’s shoreline, passing by the Frisco Cemetery, Tenmile Creek inlet and the Summit Middle School. The path continues through lodgepole pine forests to a section that parallels the Dillon Dam Road. After crossing access roads for Giberson Bay parking and the Heaton Bay Campground, it parallels the road again for a short distance and then crosses the dam. Beyond the dam, the path curves south and merges with Lodgepole Road until you connect to the Dillon Marina. The path resumes above the marina. Follow the recpath to Gold Run Circle, then east on Tenderfoot Road to the trailhead, where the recpath resumes and continues parallel to Highway 6 to Swan Mountain Road.
Now, pause for a breather and sip of water. The 5 or so miles on the north shore of Lake Dillon are perfect for families, large groups and just about anyone else who simply wants to enjoy a mellow cruise around an alpine lake. This section passes right outside of downtown Dillon — home to Pug Ryan’s microbrewery and beloved brunch spots like Arapahoe Cafe — and takes riders directly past the marina parking lot with views of sailboats and the occasional High Country regatta. Just west of the marina is the Dillon Amphitheater and connected park, complete with picnic tables, lakeside benches and plenty of open grass. Bring a backpack with a picnic lunch, or pedal down to the Tiki Bar on the dock.
About 2 miles outside of Keystone, the path will cross the Snake River by means of a large pedestrian bridge. Shortly thereafter, the path intersects another recpath. Take the right fork, which will lead you to Swan Mountain Road in about 1 mile. Cross Swan Mountain Road and continue on the recpath through the Summit Cove neighborhood following signs for the recpath, which, after a climb out of Summit Cove, intersects again with Swan Mountain Road.
Use caution crossing Swan Mountain Road and continue on the recpath to the Sapphire Point parking area. A restroom facility is available at the summit. Take the Sapphire Point Trail (pedestrian only) for great views of the surrounding peaks. The route then descends quickly to the intersection with Highway 9. Cross this highway at the light. The separated recpath resumes just past the intersection on your right. You will then come to the intersection with Frisco Farmer’s Korner Trail. Take a right onto the Farmer’s Korner Bike path. The path climbs over a hill, then continues through the Bill’s Ranch area.
At the moment, construction on Highway 9 at the Korner means the path from Summit High School to Frisco is occasionally closed. You can also ride the road from here to the Frisco Adventure Park about 0.5 miles away, but be careful — traffic can be just as busy as Swan Mountain.
There are several connections that will lead you back to the town of Frisco and the Frisco Bay Marina, including Miner’s Creek Road and Second and Seventh streets.
There are five parking options strewn across the path, including the Dillon Nature Preserve Trailhead just off Highway 6 past the Roberts Tunnel Road entrance. The majority of cyclists start at the Giberson Bay scenic overlook just south of Dillon Dam on Dillon Dam Road or the Dillon Marina parking lot at 150 Marina Drive.
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