Running High In Colorado – Part 2 Breckenridge


A local trail just steps from Downtown Breckenridge revealed one of the most scenic trails on this trip. In part 2, our Director of Marketing, Dave “D2” Martinez shares his adventure and photos that may have you considering a trip of your own to the Rockies.

By Dave Martinez

Breckenridge – Historical Background

The town of Breckenridge was created in 1859 and named after the 14th Vice President of the United States, John C. Breckenridge in hope to gain a post office which it did. At that time, it was the first post office between the Continental Divide and Salt Lake City, Utah. The ski trails opened in 1961 and has since been a popular destination for skiers. There is plenty of outdoor activities in the Summer including hiking, fly-fishing, boating, white water rafting, and cycling (mountain & road).

Why I chose Breckenridge

Breckenridge is where I first learned to ski about 20 years ago. I have some great memories with friends skiing the slopes and even make a trip to ski Vail for a day as well. I’ve often wondered what it was like in the Summer so when the opportunity came up to pace at Leadville, I figured it was a good idea to extend my trip and visit Breckenridge and Vail. I had checked out some trails through the All Trails App so I knew I could find a great trail.

It’s also a little reassuring when you’re traveling solo if you’re also familiar with the area even if it’s been 12-13 years since the last time you visited. Not to far from Breckenridge is Quandary Peak, another 14er that was part of my plan. However, the run up Mt. Elbert left me a bit sore and I took a day to recover and did some sight seeing.

First of all, there are no bad views in Colorado. Everywhere I drove there was a scenic view that just compelled me to pull over and photograph. By far the best view was of this lake between Copper Mountain and Leadville (first image of slideshow below). It’s the Clinton Gulch Dam Reservoir. I stopped there several times and even flew the drone. That image is now the wallpaper on my laptop and phone. After touring Leadville and having lunch in Vail, I made my way to Breckenridge.

Ascending To Mohawk Lake

The next day I decided not to do Quandary Peak. It would require an early morning start. I had also been doing a lot of driving over the previous 4 days and I found a trail that was less than .25 miles from where I was staying. The trail starts right off of the bunny ski slope where I first learn to ski. This is a multi-use trail so I did run into a few mountain bikers on the lower half of this hike. Even though the trail goes up in elevation, it’s a gentle grade and it is possible to run most of it.

The Burro Trail is a 6 mile round trip but it connects to the Spruce Creek Trails which is another 6 mile round trip. I missed the entrance to the Spruce Creek Trail and went up a Forest Service Road which parallels the trail. For those that prefer to drive up, they can use this road and then link up to the Spruce Creek Trail to Mohawk Lake. This part of the trail is well traveled and several hikers had dogs with them on the hike. I came across a Mayflower Lake that had the mountains as a backdrop and it was so peaceful.

I crossed a stream that had a makeshift bridge from downed trees. The trail ended up getting a bit steeper and more technical. I had to climb a nice size rock face to reach an old ski lift (photo in the slideshow below). I could hear rushing water in the distance and headed in that direction which led me to a small water fall that I would later find out was fed from the lakes above. The first lake I came across was Lower Mohawk Lake and it was stunning. The water was so clear and the area was quiet and peaceful (photo below).

The trail leveled out for a bit as it bordered part of Lower Mohawk Lake. It quickly got steeper as I made the final ascent to Mohawk Lake. I reached an altitude of 11,800 feet and in the distance saw some mountain goats. Upon reaching Mohawk Lake I could see the snow at the peak that feed the lakes and waterfall. I spent a good amount of time there taking photos and taking in the scenery.

Descending Mohawk Lake

The views were better than Mt. Elbert (in my opinion). I’m not sure that I could have gone up any higher as I didn’t see a clear trail but there were areas to explore. It wasn’t until I returned back to the room that I looked up the map and just on the other side of this peak was Quandary Peak. The decent wasn’t as  hurried as the previous one as I had plenty of daylight. The downhills were easier to run on  since it wasn’t as steep. However, I did have to pay attention once I got back on the Burro Trail as there were more mountain bikers and they were heading down as well.

If you find yourself in Breckenridge in the summer, this would be a trail I would highly recommend. Like all good things, the trip came to an end but Colorado certainly left a great impression on me. There’s a lot to do and I didn’t get a chance to go cycling but there are a few bike shops that will rent bikes (mountain & road). Colorado has a great network of paths for runners and cyclists. I later found out that you can ride a bike from Breckenridge to Frisco for a 20 mile round trip. If you’re feeling really adventurous, you can do a 75 mile round trip from Breckenridge to Vail while stopping in Frisco for a break. I’ll have to keep this in mind for my next visit.

Relive ‘Morning Aug 20th’

Below are photos from this excursion.

To read about Leadville and Mt. Elbert, check out part 1.

Staying in Breckenridge

Check VRBO or AirBNB. For convenience and since I’m familiar with Breckenridge, that’s where I decided to stay. However, for less expensive lodging, you can try staying in Frisco if you don’t mind driving to Breckenridge. Frisco is just off of I-70. Frisco has also had a lot of growth over the last decade and has a robust Main Street with plenty of retail and restaurants for visitors.

My Run/Hike Pack & Gear

Dave “D2” Martinez is the Big Peach Running Co. Director of Marketing & RUNATL Podcast Co-host.