Top 3 Lake Hikes in the Breckenridge Area

It’s no surprise that hiking is one of the most popular summer activities in Colorado, and especially in Summit County. Plus with the Ten Mile Mountain Range as our backyard, it’s also really convenient! I’m certain that you will ask the staff at various shops on Main Street suggestions for some great hikes to do… and they will all give you some incredible options. But today, I wanted to share with you some of my favorites. You see, I’m a big fan of hiking to and around lakes. Here are my picks for top 3 lake hikes in Breckenridge:

Lily Pad Trail

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The Lily Pad Trail is a very mild hike perfect for everyone from young kids to grandparents… and it is absolutely gorgeous! The trail takes you through the dense forest, over bridges and streams, and even through a clearing of boulders. You get the full spectrum of the Rocky Mountain terrain. When you get to the lake, take a moment to enjoy the view. Think Monet’s Water Lilies in real life—that’s right, the lake is covered in lily pads, so much so that you can barely see the water below! Having hiked this trail numerous times, I can tell you that my favorite time of all was when my dog and I headed out there around 7pm. When we got to the lake, we sat by the water, ate some dinner, and enjoyed the picturesque views in front of us. We made it back down before nightfall—perfect timing to see the sun setting, it was breathtaking!

From I-70, exit 205 (Silverthorne) and head North to the stop light with a 7-11 on the West side and Wendy’s on the East side.  Turn Left (at the 7-11), and continue 3.5 miles up through the Wilderness subdivision.  Near the top you will find a sign for the South Willow Trail.  Just beyond that you’ll see a road leading up to Wilderness water tank No. 6.  Park and walk up the hill to the trailhead located just right of the buried water tank.

Wheeler Lakes

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Located on the other side of the highway across from Copper Mountain, you will find the beautiful Wheeler Lakes. This hike is a little more challenging than the Lily Pad Trail. The beginning of the hike is pretty vigorous, but still very doable. When you arrive at the lakes, you will be surrounded by water, fields of wildflowers, and incredibly dramatic views. The trail is about 5.9 miles roundtrip and will take a few hours, at least. You will want to set aside a half-day to spend on this hike, at least. And don’t forget to pack plenty of water!

Drive: I-70 west toward Vail, and take exit 195 (Copper Mountain).  You can cross the overpass bridge and take a quick left to park at the Ten Mile Canyon bikeway parking area, then follow the arrows to the trailhead.

Mohawk Lakes

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Save this one until you are fully acclimated to the altitude! It is a much more strenuous hike. Lower Mohawk Lake is a breeze to get to, but the rest of the trail grows harder. You climb rather steep rocky sections to get to the glacial lake hidden up in the mountains. Once you have made it through the difficult section and out to Mohawk Lake, you will be speechless by the beauty in front of you. It is by far my favorite place that I have been all summer—you won’t want to leave! TIP: Only park your car when you are 100% certain that you cannot drive any farther! You will pass several spots where you can park, but you will want to keep going—you can go almost seven miles past that first parking lot. If you do choose to keep driving, make sure you have a vehicle with some clearance as the road does get a little bumpy.

Drive: south 2.4 miles on Hwy 9 from the south end of Breckenridge Main Street.  Turn right at Spruce Creek Road, just past the Goose Pasture Tarn, which is the lake on your left.  The lower trail head is 1.2 miles from Why 9, and a good place to start and avoid the very bumpy and slow car ride to the next trail head.  From the lower trail head its a 2.8 mile hike to the upper lake, with a 1,700 foot elevation gain.

Quick tip for those of you setting out on these hikes: if you are bringing your dog(s), make sure they are on a leash. Not only are there leash laws in the State of Colorado, but it is also a courtesy to others on the trail. Happy Hiking!