Autumn in the summit…
The annual rite of summer’s passage is in full swing in Summit County. With two days to go in the warmest season of the year, the local hills are exploding in a calliope of colors dominated by the golden hue of aspens. It’s part of the allure of living in the Colorado High Country, and it isn’t too late to get out and see the peak of Colorado’s fall foliage. Though many choose to organize road trips across the state to find the best displays of color, plenty of opportunities exist right here in the Summit for outdoor enthusiasts of all pursuits. These are some of our favorites here at the Summit Daily for hikers, mountain bikers and road cyclists.
For the hikerPtarmigan Trail – This moderately steep trail climbs up from Ptarmigan Road through a thick aspen grove to the edge of the Ptarmigan Peak Wilderness. Though a hike all the way to the top of Ptarmigan Peak can make for a sunrise-to-sunset slog, hiking to the edge of the wilderness is a more pleasant trek through several small drainages lined with aspen trees. The trailhead is found on the right-hand side of Ptarmigan Trail Road coming from Silverthorne, via a right turn off of Rainbow Drive onto Tanglewood Road, then a right turn off of Tanglewood onto Ptarmigan Trail.Lily Pad Lakes – A quick glance around the county and you can’t help but notice the immense aspen forest above the north edge of Frisco, just north of Interstate 70. Finding your way into the middle of it all is as easy as starting at the Meadow Creek trailhead located at the end of the dirt road accessed by the traffic circle at Summit Boulevard’s junction with I-70. This short hike leads to several small bodies of water where hikers can stare back down through the aspens into the county. The lakes can also be accessed via a trailhead found at the top of Ryan Gulch Road in Wildernest. Honorable mention: Wheeler Lakes Trail located at the scenic overlook 1 mile before reaching the Copper Mountain exit on I-70; South Willow Lakes located at the end of Willowbrook Road in Silverthorne.
For the mountain bikerThe Peaks Trail – One of the county’s most popular mountain bike trails, the Peaks Trail traverses through a variety of forests and skirts right alongside several wetlands that add to the color with reds and occasional purples. The primary trailhead can be found off of the bike path near Frisco’s Second Street. The trail meanders its way through the foothills of the Tenmile Range from Frisco to Breckenridge, popping out of the forest in the Peak 8 base area. Though finding the trail from the Breckenridge end is a bit trickier, doing so affords a nearly all-downhill ride to Frisco. Baker’s Tank Trail – This technical trail twists and turns its way through the forest above Breckenridge crossing through a tunnel of golden beauty along the way. The easiest way to ride this trail is on a loop that begins at its lower trailhead, found on Boreas Pass Road 3 miles east of the Stephen C. West Ice Arena. Ride up Boreas Pass Road, being sure to take in the vistas of the Blue River Tarn and the upper Blue River Valley, then turn left onto the trail at the hard-to-miss Baker’s Tank. At the first intersection, bear a hard left, and at the second, bear left downhill and enjoy the ride. Honorable mention: The Colorado Trail off of the Dredge Trailhead on Tiger Road near Breckenridge.
For the road riderUte Pass – The most obscure of Summit County’s four paved mountain passes, Ute Pass is located 10 miles north of Silverthorne on the east side of Highway 9. This sedate road ride gives cyclists an opportunity to stare out at the Gore Range, which dominates the western horizon with a quilt of colors laid out across its lower flanks. To take in the whole package, start in Silverthorne and ride north to the second right turn labeled “Ute Pass Road.” This climb provides an easy 5-mile journey to the top of the pass, where a grove of aspens frames the intense view of the Gore. Dillon Reservoir – On any given day, the circumnavigation of Dillon Reservoir is one of the county’s most popular road rides. In the fall, it becomes that much better, especially on the bike path between Farmer’s Korner and Frisco. Most cyclists prefer to ride the loop in a clockwise direction as the climb up Swan Mountain Road from Summit Cove is much easier than the climb from Farmer’s Korner. Honorable mention: Hoosier Pass from Breckenridge on Highway 9; Vail Pass via the bike path through Tenmile Canyon.Richard Chittick can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 236, or at email@example.com.
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