Breckenridge Bike Guide: Carter Park Trail System (video)
Distance: About 6 miles
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
Extensions: B-Line, Barney Flow, others
Parking: Parking is available at the Carter Park lot
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. Everyone knows the Carter Park 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. Those switchbacks are the final hurdle riders face before crossing the finish line for the iconic Fourth of July Firecracker 50 race.
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.
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 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 Summit 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.
What makes Carter Park Carter Park? The steep climb out of the base of it. If you’re starting at Carter Park, it is a grunt of a climb to get up that hill, but it gives you multiple options. You can pick the loop below, as we encourage bikers to climb the Moonstone Trail on a hike. From there, you can go down Barney Flow, which is a smoother, buttery flow trail, and then you can do another lap and climb back up Moonstone and hit B-Line, which has more drops and berms, and it even has a dirt jump line. And it all leads back to the same place, which is kind of cool.
— Scott Reid
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