Undoubtedly not just the best place to see fall colors in Summit County, but always on the list for the best places in the entire state to view fall foliage. Boreas Pass can be experienced by car, bike, or foot so it’s top of the list for best places and best hikes to see fall colors. The views are amazing year round, but the fall is an especially incredible time of year due to the abundance of aspen trees with their exploding fall colors. Its popularity also means the upper part of Boreas Pass Road can get a bit jammed with traffic on weekends during peak season. Follow our tip below and miss the crowds:
Getting there: Boreas Pass Road is at the junction of the last stop light on the south end of Breckenridge on Highway 9. Take Boreas Pass road west and enjoy the overlooks along the way. The road can be driven all the way to Como in Park County or you can choose to turn around when the pavement ends and return to Breckenridge. Tip: Park at the Sawmill Museum on your right at the lower end of Boreas Pass Road (1/2 mile pas the ice rink). Take in some of Breckenridge’s rich mining history and enjoy the absolute best place for fall colors. Take the Aspen Alley hike up the hill on your left (pass mining relics along the way and join the upper part of Boreas Pass road at the top of the trail). For an easier hike, take the Blue River trail to the right of the Wakefield gate (private property so be sure to stay on the trail). If the Sawmill Museum lot is full, park at the ice rink and use the sidewalk to walk up Boreas Pass Road, or take the Illinois Gulch trail at the back left of the ice rink parking lot. Follow trailhead signs pointing to the direction of the Blue River Trail.
A short and easy hike near Frisco, just north of Breckenridge. Enjoy golden groves along the trail and the surrounding mountains.
Getting there: There are several ways to reach the trailhead. The easiest for those unfamiliar with the area are to take Highway 9 from Breckenridge, turn left onto Main Street (going west), turn left (south) onto Second Avenue. Take a right on South Cabin Green and use caution while crossing over the paved recreation pathway after stopping at the stop sign to get to the trailhead parking area. Look for the Rainbow Lake sign with arrow pointing to the trail.
Lower Cataract Lake
Another short and easy hike that features a lake and huge cascading waterfall that can be heard throughout the majority of the hike. A don’t-miss trail for best fall hikes.
Getting there: From Breckenridge, take Highway 9 north to Frisco, I-70 east towards Denver, exit Silverthorne/Dillon, north again for 16 miles on Highway 9 towards Kremmling. Turn left just after mile marker 118 onto Heeney Road/CR 30. Drive 5 miles and turn left Cataract Creek Road/FSR 1725. Drive past the campground along a dirt road and park at dead end near trailhead.
Blue River and Lake Dillon Rec Paths
Accessible to anyone on foot or bicycle (motorized wheels such as motor bikes and E-bikes not allowed), the Summit County Rec Paths have scatterings of gold leaves that are stunning sights against the water in the river or lake. There are 55 miles of rec path in the county. Follow the tips below for our recommend access points for fall color.
Getting there: There are hundreds of places to jump on the rec path in and around Breckenridge along the Blue River or around Lake Dillon. Tip: Park at the Frisco Marina and go north on the Rec Path (towards I-70). If you have bikes, rRide all the way to the Dillon Marina for a drink at the Tiki Bar and then ride back to the Frisco Marina. The photo above is at the very northern part of the Lake Dillon Rec Path which parallels Dillon Dam Road. Tip #2: Park at Kingdom Park off Airport Road in Breckenridge, get on the Rec Path by foot or bicycle and follow the path along the Blue River in either direction (towards or away from town).
Take a drive south of Breckenridge on Highway 9, sit back and enjoy the fall colors from the comfort of your car. Beautiful golden aspen groves can be spotted the entire way with multiple places to safely pull over for photo ops. Please note that while Goose Pasture Tarn on the left before Blue River may seem like a great place to stop, the lake is private property and trespassers will be ticketed.
Getting there: Take Highway 9 south of Breckenridge towards Alma/Fairplay.
Pence Miller Trail
If you’ve read this far, we’ve saved a best-kept-secret trail for fall colors last. An abundance of aspens on the Pence Miller trail offer excellent leaf viewing and town overlook opportunities on a trail that is mostly quiet year round.
Getting there: Park in the South Gondola lot and park near the Pedestrian Tunnel next to Park Avenue. You will see a sign that says Watson Trailhead near the tunnel entrance. Walk through the underground tunnel that passes under Park Avenue. The tunnel will come out on the other side of Park Avenue at Mountain Thunder Lodge. Take the trail that runs to the right of Mountain Thunder Lodge and follow it to the Pence Miller trailhead.