Summit County Bike Trails: Lake Dillon rec path (video)
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: You don’t often come across a cruiser-ready rec path with a demanding (yet far from impossible) mountain climb smack in the middle. At 18 miles from start to finish, there’s a little something for everyone out there.
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Know Before You Go
Swan Mountain Road is a winding mountain road with an elevation gain of 500 feet that does not have paved shoulders. Be aware at times there is heavy vehicle traffic. Use caution when riding along this 6-mile section of the route. The route is not advised for families with small children or bike trailers.
Starting at the east end of Main Street adjacent to the Frisco Marina, this level section of rec path winds along the Dillon Reservoir’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 rec path to Gold Run Circle, then east on Tenderfoot Road to the trailhead, where the rec path resumes and continues parallel to Hwy 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 two miles outside of Keystone, the path will cross the Snake River by means of a large pedestrian bridge. Shortly thereafter, the path intersects another rec path. Take the right fork, which will lead you to Swan Mountain Road in about 1 mile. Cross Swan Mountain Road and continue on rec path through the Summit Cove neighborhood following signs for the rec path, which, after a climb out of Summit Cove, intersects again with Swan Mountain Road.
Use caution crossing Swan Mountain Road and continue on the rec path 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 rec path 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.
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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