If you are traveling to Breckenridge in the summer or fall with kids (or just looking for an easy hike), check out these five easy hikes in Breckenridge and nearby.
Located high in the Rocky Mountains at an elevation of 9,600 feet, Breckenridge is an epic summer and fall hiking destination. With towering snow-covered mountains, wildflowers, and dense evergreen forests, Breckenridge feels so remote. But, it’s only an hour and a half drive from Denver.
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I’ve lived in Summit County for twenty years and hiking is one of my favorite things to do here in the summer and fall. Breckenridge has amazing hikes for all abilities and ages. After Eli was born I’d hike with him in a backpack carrier but as soon as he could walk he wanted to hike himself. That limited the hikes that we could do. Luckily, there are plenty of easy hikes in Breckenridge and nearby. I’ve narrowed down the easy hikes around Breckenridge to five of my favorites- Sawmill Trail, Illinois Creek Trail, Rainbow Lake Trail, Sapphire Point Trail, and Old Dillon Reservoir Trail.
You will definitely want to work one of these hikes into your Breckenridge family vacation itinerary.
Map of Hikes in Breckenridge and Nearby
Hikes in Breckenridge
The best thing about the Sawmill and Illinois Creek Trails is that the trailheads are right in town. Depending on where you are staying in Breckenridge, you can either walk, drive, or take the Breck Free Ride bus to either of these trails.
The Sawmill trail follows under the chairlift, along a creek, and through a thick evergreen forest for the first 1/3 mile. Then you will arrive at Sawmill Reservoir, a beautiful lake with incredible mountain views. You’ll find benches around the lake and plenty of spots for kids to access the shore to throw rocks. After walking around the reservoir, you head back down the trail to the parking lot.
Distance/Elevation Gain –1.3 mile loop, 236 ft Elevation Gain
Trailhead Location – Sawmill Trailhead is located at the corner of Kings Crown and Four O’Clock road at the bottom of the Snowflake Lift. There is a small parking lot at the trailhead but the Sawmill trail is very popular and the lot is usually full. If you are staying nearby it would be best to walk to the trailhead. Or, you can jump on the yellow route of the Breck Free Ride bus.
Illinois Creek Trail – Breckenridge Troll
Illinois Creek Trail to the Breckenridge Troll is one of the shortest and easiest hikes in Breckenridge. It’s a great hike for even the youngest kids. It is also the one hike that you won’t want to miss on your visit to Breckenridge. The hike (or walk really) is a short loop that heads through the woods to a gigantic troll created by the famous Danish Artist Thomas Dambo.
Read Breckenridge Troll Isak Heartstone – A Must See In Breckenridge to learn all about the Breckenridge Troll.
*The troll is amazing to look at but please don’t touch or climb on the sculpture.
Distance/Elevation Gain – 800 ft loop, no elevation gain
Trailhead Location– Heading south on Main Street in Breckenridge, turn left onto Boreas Pass Road. The parking lot will be on your right after you pass the Ice Arena. Park in the southeast corner by the Illinois Creek Trailhead and you will see the trail.
*The town of Breckenridge would prefer if you take the free shuttle, ride your bike, or walk to the trailhead. I’ve never had issues parking in the Ice Arena parking lot but on a busy weekend the parking lot could possibly be monitored.
Hikes Near Breckenridge
Rainbow Lake, Sapphire Point, and Old Dillon Reservoir trailheads are all located between eight and twelve miles from Breckenridge. Although there is a free shuttle bus service in Summit County, you can’t access any of these trails from the bus so you will need a car.
Rainbow lake is a relatively level hike near the town of Frisco, about ten miles from Breckenridge. The hike takes you over boardwalks in the wetlands and through the forest to a pristine mountain lake. The wildflowers in the summer are incredible along the way. Pack a lunch, the lake is the perfect picnic spot after the short hike.
Distance/Elevation Gain- About 1.5 miles round trip, 150 feet elevation gain
Trailhead Location- From Breckenridge take Highway 9 North into Frisco, turn left onto 8th Avenue/Teller Street, turn right onto Pitkin Street and then left onto 2nd Avenue. Turn right onto South Cabin Green after a few blocks and you’ll see the Peaks Trail parking area with a sign for Rainbow Lake.
Sapphire Point is an AMAZING short hike with fantastic views of Lake Dillon and the Ten Mile and Gore mountain ranges. Because the trail starts at the top of Swan Mountain road, you get incredible views with minimal elevation gain. It is a short loop, perfect for anyone looking for an easy hike with great views. There are several picnic tables available about halfway through the hike, a great spot for a picnic or snack break.
*Because the trail is so awesome, the Sapphire Point trail can get really crowded. Try to avoid this trail on weekends unless you go early in the morning or later in the afternoon.
Distance/Elevation – 0.6 Mile loop, 36 ft in elevation gain
Trailhead Location- Head North on Highway 9 from Breckenridge. At the stoplight turn right onto Swan Mountain Road. When you get to the top of Swan Mountain you will see the trailhead parking on the left.
*There are 22 parking spots but they fill up quickly on the weekends in the summer.
Old Dillon Reservoir
Old Dillon Reservoir trail is hands down my favorite hike to do in the fall. The hike leads through stands of aspen trees that turn bright yellow and orange, with incredible views of Lake Dillon and the Ten Mile mountain range. The views on the way to Old Dillon Reservoir are what make this hike so memorable. The actual reservoir at the end of the trail isn’t too impressive but it’s a great place to skip rocks.
Distance/Elevation- 1.7 Miles long, 213 ft of elevation gain
Trailhead Location- Head North on Highway 9 through the town of Frisco. Turn right on Dillon Dam Road at the stoplight before the entrance to I-70. Look for the sign for The Old Dillon Reservoir Trailhead on the left before you get to the dam.
Tips for Hiking in Breckenridge With Kids
- Bring lots of snacks and a full water bottle. Nothing will ruin a hike faster than a hungry or thirsty kid.
- The weather in Breckenridge can change quickly. Dress in layers to be prepared for any weather.
- Wear sturdy hiking shoes or sandals. My favorite kids’ hiking shoes for the summer are Keen sandals. Keens have sturdy soles and toe protection. Eli loves that they are washable and quick-dry so he can wade in the lake or walk through the mud.
- Plan your hikes in the mornings for the best chance of sunny weather. The weather pattern in Breckenridge in the summer is typically sunshine in the morning with thunderstorms in the afternoon.
- You don’t have to do the entire hike! Hiking is all about the journey, not the destination (with the exception of the Breckenridge Troll hike but that hike is REALLY easy).
For more fun things to do around Breckenridge in the summer and fall read-
Free Summer Activities in Summit County Colorado
Kid-Approved Mine Tours That Can’t Be Missed
Why You Should Visit Copper Mountain in the Summer
Experience the Fall Colors in Summit County- Bike, Drive, Boat, or Hike
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Such a great list. This is one part of Colorado that I have yet to visit!
Such a great list of hikes. When we visit Breckenridge, I will take my son on these hikes. I think he will like to see the troll.
I’d love to visit and hike out there with my kids. Great list thanks!
Rebecca Scholes says
Brilliant post, we hope to visit Colorado in 2022 🤞 so this will be handy
That troll statue is AMAZING!! And the whole area just looks so amazing for adventuring. Thanks for sharing.