Summit Count Bike Guide: Carter Park trail system |

Summit Count Bike Guide: Carter Park trail system

Riders charge down the final mile of singletrack on Barney Ford above Carter Park in Breckenridge during the Firecracker 50 race. The trail is popular with downhill riders for whip-fast straightaways and flowy turns, but the multi-use, multi-directional nature can make it dangerous.
Sebastian Foltz / Summit Daily file photo |

By the numbers

Distance: Roughly 6 miles

Rating: Moderate

Time: 1 hour

Elevation: 9,600-10,550 feet (950 feet vertical gain)

Trail: Singletrack, with short sections of paved road

Season: Mid-June to October

SUMMIT COUNTY — Everyone knows the Carter Park switchbacks.

Found just a few pedal strokes from downtown Breckenridge, the park is the gateway to a half-dozen singletrack routes through towering pine forests and secluded neighborhoods: Moonstone, Barney Ford, Juniata, Sallie Barber, the French Gulch connectors and more. It’s the sort of trail system Breck is known for, with quick, punchy loops over a variety of terrain. Nothing is longer than a few miles, and even the more technical sections are short enough for a relatively pain-free introduction to advanced riding.

But first, those switchbacks. Whether you grind up or barrel down, they’re one of Carter Park’s signature features, like the rolling, interweaving blue runs of Peak 9. They’re so iconic that the Summit Mountain Challenge Series has hosted a Carter Park race every summer for at least a decade, and those switchbacks are the final hurdle riders face before crossing the finish line for the Firecracker 50. Even if you don’t yet know the switchbacks, there’s no better time than now.

Know before you go

The Barney Ford portion of this ride is located on easements across private property. Please stay on the designated trails to avoid trespassing. Due to easy access from downtown, this route is incredibly popular all summer, particularly late in the season when other nearby trail systems are no longer rideable. Watch at least two turns ahead for dogs, hikers, trail runners and other mountain bikers.

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The Carter Park singletrack begins on the far end of the parking lot. It’s well-marked, with a signpost and nearby trail map. Continue uphill on the singletrack for a few hundred meters, then bear left for a steep, switchback climb up an old and abandoned ski trail. The trail ends at the Hermit Placer Trail after roughly 0.5 miles of climbing. Turn left here, then take an immediate right onto the Moonstone Trail.

Moonstone Trail switchbacks through the trees and ends at County Road 503 after another 0.5 miles. To continue on more singletrack, cross the road and enter the tight and fun Barney Ford Trail. The trail climbs for almost 1.5 miles until it reaches Sallie Barber Road. From here, you can either turn right on Sallie Barber Road to connect with Baldy Road and the Juniata Trail loop, or you can turn around and descend back to Carter Park the way you came.


Parking is available at Carter Park. From the intersection of Main and French streets in Breckenridge, head south on Main and make a left onto East Adams Avenue. Follow the street a few blocks, then take a right onto South High Street (a T-intersection). Follow High Street until it dead-ends in the Carter Park parking lot.

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