Breckenridge Bike Guide: Minnie Mine trail (video)
By the numbers Distance: 1.2 miles one way Rating: Moderate Time: 20-30 minutes Elevation: 9,983-10,263 feet (280 vertical feet) Type: Singletrack Season: Early June to September Connectors: X10U8, Side Door Trail, Reiling Dredge Trail
SUMMIT COUNTY — Minnie Mine trail is a true diamond in the rough. Early miners in the French Gulch area were more concerned with dredging than singletrack, but more than 100 years later the remnants of mines, shafts and tailings are still strewn across the hillside, peeking out between aspen and pine tree stands.
As one of several trails running parallel to French Gulch Road (the perfect gateway to fall riding), Minnie Mine stays relatively flat and flowy, with only two or three brief uphill grinds. It also tends to dry out quickly, leaving the entire 1.2-mile trail ready to ride by early May most years. If you’ve been in search of a daily lunchtime ride, look no further.
The French Gulch area is one of the busiest for mountain bike traffic, so be wary on weekends and sun-drenched afternoons, and always keep an eye open for dogs and foot traffic. It’s a hot spot for hiking. All trails in the area are well-marked and maintained. No overnight parking is allowed at any of the trailheads along French Gulch Road.
Minnie Mine is a quasi-loop, with two trailheads found about 3 miles past the end of the pavement on French Gulch Road. The first trailhead winds uphill along a rocky, wide-open portion of trail before narrowing down to true singletrack. The second trailhead, found about 0.75 miles past the first, begins at the Reiling Dredge parking lot and heads west toward town along a gradual uphill grade.
Either direction is a blast, and at just over 1 mile long riders can tempt both directions in the same trip and have time to spare. That said, first-timers will likely enjoy beginning from the second trailhead. It’s singletrack at its finest, with well-worn trails, very few technical sections and a cave-like feeling from overhanging aspens as you get closer to the mid-trail mine site. It’s also mostly downhill — mostly.
From the Reiling Dredge lot, head up the singletrack past the left-hand turn for X10U8 and keep grinding for about 0.75 miles until you reach the abandoned mine site. The trail continues for another 0.5 miles before reaching a fork at another old mine site.
Straight leads to the Side Door trail, which in turn connects to Prospector Trail and a slew of other routes winding through private property. That’s the beauty of the French Gulch system: the combinations are endless.
Take a hard left at the Side Door fork to reconnect with the Minnie Mine trail. It can get steep in sections, with an occasional mound of tricky rocks and roots. Follow it for another 0.5 miles of pure descent past smaller mine remnants before popping out on French Gulch Road.
Once you’re there, turn around and give your lungs a workout by pumping in the opposite direction.
Minnie Mine and the remaining French Gulch trails (X10U8, B&B Trail, Side Door) are all accesible by French Gulch Road. From Breckenridge, head east on County Road 450 and bear right at the junction with Forest Hills Drive. Continue another 0.5 miles to the stop sign. Take French Gulch Road and continue through the neighborhood until the road turns to dirt. From there, drive 3 miles to the Reiling Dredge Trailhead. Parking is on the left.
Editor’s note: This article first published in June 2015 and is annually updated for accuracy.
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