Mountain Biking the Peaks Trail in Breckenridge

  • 19mi Distance
  • 7 Difficulty (1-10)
  • 1592' Total Ascent
  • 10,520' High Point

This busy trail had me testing my balance and technical skills over many rocky sections, climbs, and boardwalk. It also had me sucking wind like a Hoover vacuum. My un-acclimatized North Idaho lungs were certainly having difficulty oxygenating my muscles between 9,000 and 10,500 feet elevation. Even through the pain and the clouded vision from climbing at such high altitude, I couldn’t have pictured a better place to be than where I was in those moments.

I first discovered the Peaks Trail back in 2014 when I was visiting Breckenridge as a spectator for the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. Rohan Denis took stage 4 for BMC Racing and Laurent Didier took the time trial on stage 5. As my first professional road race, I couldn't have picked a better venue, and the atmosphere was electric. During my spare time, I rode the Peaks Trail and the Blue River Rec path on my Specialized Enduro 650B. It had been years since I had visited any town or vacation destination with over 100 miles of dedicated rec track and 100's of miles of single-track!

Spread the Word
  • 4
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

A few years have passed since my first ride on the peaks trail.  It’s eight miles of 2 to 3 foot wide single-track is still challenging with technical rock gardens on the straights, corners, and hills.  Its forested walls make it ideal to hide from warmer weather, and it’s many boardwalks ensure that you will be keeping the wet areas in pristine condition for others to enjoy long after you have left.  As a resident, I ride to the trailhead from my home near Tiger road and use the Blue River Rec Path to get to and from the trailheads on the Breckenridge and Frisco sides of the trail which extend the ride to a few hours and just shy of 20 miles.  I prefer to ride the trail in the direction starting from Breckenridge to Frisco and use the Rec path to get back to town.

If you are riding from the town of Breckenridge, you will want to ride the climb up Ski Hill Road.  It will be left at the first stoplight after the south gondola parking lot.  As I write this, the South Gondola Parking lot has been converted to a pay lot and is no-longer-free.  There are other parking options close to the rec path that you will be able to leverage along the route if you would like to extend the distance as I do.  As an alternative to the Ski Hill Road climb, you could hop on the free Gondola if it’s running and take that to the Breckenridge Resort at Peak 7 or 8.  From there you can make your way to the trailhead on the right of the Grand Lodge at Peak 7.  You could also park at the small parking area at the Peaks trailhead and use the trail as an out-and-back or leverage your friends, family, or free public transport as a shuttle back to your car or have them pick you up in Frisco.  Enough about the logistics, back to the trail!  If you are riding up the brute of a climb called ski hill road, then you will want to take a break at the overlook to take in the sights of the surrounding mountains.  Just so that you know, there are trails on all of them!

Breckenridge Overlook on Ski Hill Road on the way up to the Breckenridge Ski Resort and Peaks 7 and 8

The Peaks trailhead is located just north, or to the right, of the Grand Lodge at Peak 7 and is at the end of the pavement on Ski Hill Road.  The parking lot has room for around 15 cars and is best to plan to arrive there before 9:00 am if possible and you are driving. I have never seen it full but there is the potential.  If you can tear your eyes away from my bike long enough to read the signs you will see that this trail will give you some options if you don’t want to go all the way to Frisco.  Please keep in mind that the Miners Creek trail junction at mile 6 is NOT a bail out point and is actually a part of segment 7 of the Colorado trail.  It’s unassuming left hander will have you enjoying yourself for about a half mile and then the climbing gets real as it works it’s way above 12,000 feet and over the 10-Mile range in-route to Copper Mountain.  Stay right at that particular sign and you will retain your speed and keep the lactic acid from brutalizing you further.  If you have scheduled a pickup or are looking for an extended really cool downhill you could take the Gold Hill trail at mile 6.5.  It will have you climbing back over 10,000 feet and then descending down to HWY 9 and the Gold Hill parking lot around 1000 feet below.  Either way, you choose, you will be riding some awesome single-track!

The Start of this trail climbs over exposed roots and boardwalk under the trees and reminds you to be on your toes if you can keep your eyes on the trail. Stick to the main line created by other riders and you will not be steered wrong as you take in sights of the forest and the wetlands around the boardwalks.

Start of the Peaks Trail near Peak 7 where the pavement of Ski Hill Road ends

Before you know it, you will be climbing and switch-backing through the trees as the trail challenges your stamina and your bodies ability to oxygenate your blood above 9000 feet.  Take your time; you are not racing yet.  On that note, this is an extremely popular trail in Breckenridge with runners, hikers, and families enjoying the same thing you are.  Some of the individual people you encounter on the Peaks Trail could also be connected to their music devices and may not hear you coming.  Be courteous, pass slowly, keep positive, and remember, there could be one such person around the next bend!

The Peaks Trails in Breckenridge is a good representation of the rock obstacles and tech sections you will encounter throughout the area, see if you can clean them all!  These technical sections are all over the place, on climbs, downhills, flat ground, when you are gassed, you will find one!  Far from being annoying, these technical sections are one of the things that mountain biking is all about.  The thrill of being able to clean something like this will have you feeling like an animal!  But, only for a short time as the next climb will take your breath away and put you right back in your place!

You’re in luck because the whole trail is not too technical or a monster climb.  There are other trails for such a thing, like the Miner’s creek trail!  Parts of the path wind through the trees popping in and out of the shade to reward your efforts from the previous sections with something altogether different.

The Peaks Trail as it follows a flume full of water and flowers in the early part of the season

One of the real rewards is when you make it to the flume.  In the early parts of the summer, water from the creek flows through the flume and brings out the flowers.  The forest thins out, and you start to catch views of the surrounding mountains where you feel like you’re in a special place of heaven. This flat to slight downhill section will inspire you to keep on going just to see what is next.

Eventually you will leave the trees all together for a short time just beyond the flume.  The trail narrows and you wind your way across a meadow.  Take a look around, enjoy the uninterrupted views on the mountains.  You may be able to see Keystone Resort to the east.

All too soon you will be heading back into the trees where a few tight corners greet you leading into a sharp steep climb.  Switch to your granny and you will get up the first section easy enough, but you aren’t done yet!  The last bit will cause your muscles to scream at you again.? A resting spot will be waiting for you at the top.? Rest if you need to and then carry on.  Eventually, you will come across the Miners Creek trail which is signed and well marked, you will want to stay right.  A half mile later and you will reach the Gold Hill trail and another clearing where you can see parts of the 10 Mile range to your left.  There is also an enjoyable, steep and short descent; you can do it!

From the Gold Hill trail marker, the Peaks trail starts to get technical as it descends through the trees.  You will eventually be following a creek to the left and picking your way through rocks and roots.  Just some more fun technical stuff along your way to Frisco.  You have a few more miles left.

Right before you get out of the trees, you will find a unique boardwalk with stairs on it.  I am excited to ride it every time I see it and find it an entertaining addition to the trail.

A fun boardwalk and stairstep section to navigate before making your way out of the trees on the Peaks Trail

The final section of the trail opens up out of the trees and becomes fast and flowy.  Please be on the lookout for hikers and runners.  Lots of dogs will also be around as well.  They may or may not be on a leash and may take offense to you coming around a corner and surprising them.  Both the people and the animals!  This will keep the speed down, but the stoke factor of getting to this point should still be pretty high.  When you reach the Miner’s Creek road, you will have to make a choice.  I generally get off the Peaks trail here as Rainbow Lake is very busy with hikers and families and is slow going on a bike.  There is a social trail just across the bridge once you get onto Miner’s Creek Road from the path, this is not the peaks trail but will get you there if you want to take it.  From Miners Creek road I make a right and ride the dirt road until I reach the Rec Path.  Once you reach the Rec Path, you can go left to Frisco, and Main Street or right passed the Hospital and on towards Breckenridge if you have decided to make a loop out of it.  If you did want to ride the Peaks Trail out and back, then the Miners Creek Road would be a great place to turn around.

I have created a 15 minute  full  360 video of the Peaks Trail Breckenridge with some edits along the whole section of trail you can watch here.  You will be redirected to YouTube in a different window.

If you do not have the time for the 15 minute 360 Video, I have created a 5 minute 360 Video of the Peaks Trail Breckenridge here.

360 Video offers a really unique experience where you can move the viewing angle to any point within 360 degrees within the video by clicking and dragging with your mouse on a PC or moving your phone or mobile device into the direction you would like to see. Try it out and let me know what you think in the comments below or in the video.  And, As always, if you like the videos you can like them, I give you my permission!  It also helps promote the YouTube side of Credible Cyclist.

Conclusion

The Peaks trail is an awesome trail in Breckenridge and very popular to ride.  It is also popular for hikers and runners as are all the other trails in the area.  Breckenridge is host to hundreds of miles of single-track and has a very active community.  This trail can be ridden from June to late October or until the snow flies and the ground freezes.  It can be done as an out and back, or as a loop, or an extension to the Gold Hill trail from either way.  The trail offers a rockier and more technical terrain than the other trails to the east of highway 9 and can also serve as something different after spending a lot of time on those trails.  It is one of my favorite trails however, I don’t believe it is a trail for beginners.  If you are a novice and want to ride it anyways, I would suggest giving yourself a few hours and maybe heading out on the Gold Hill trail and taking one of the free busses back to town.  Living on Tiger Road, that combination is one of my favorite rides on the West Side of HWY 9.  Whichever way you choose, You will have an awesome time in the trees tasting the views when the trail allows.