With the wildflower and fall seasons complete, and the weather getting a bit cold for 14ers in my opinion, hiking to mines is a good option. There are several mine hikes near Breckenridge of varying levels. Some are even popular for snow shoeing as winter approaches.
Below is a list of my favorite mine hikes near Breckenridge:
Iowa Hill (Easy)
Iowa Hill is by far the easiest trailhead to reach and the easiest hike to see old mining equipment. The trailhead is located within minutes of town and the trail is only 0.6 miles. It is a perfect jaunt for visitors getting used to the high altitude.
The path weaves through relics of Iowa Hill Hydraulic Placer Mine as interpretive signs indicate the techniques use by this mine near Breckenridge.
Sallie Barber Mine (Easy)
The Sallie Barber Mine Trail is another mine hike near Breckenridge. Located in the White River National Forest, it is an extremely popular hike, snowshoe and X-Country ski trail among locals and their dogs!
Not much of a winter person, I’d still recommend this trail in the winter as hikers must follow an unshaded service road for most of the 2.8 mile roundtrip. The elevation gain of only 393 feet make this hike to relics of the old zinc mine easy.
Mohawk Lakes (Moderate)
Mohawk Lakes might be one of my most favorite mine hikes near Breckenridge. For that matter, it might be one of my most favorite hikes. The 6.7 mile moderate trail features so much!
While the first part up Spruce Creek Trail is a tedious meander through beetle kill forest, hikers soon reach a cabin where a waterfall may be found on the creek to the right of the trail. Here, there is also an old mining cable that leads to a cog. Though steeper than the switch back option, it is fun to climb up this way.
After reaching the old mining relics, hikers may continue to both the lower and upper Mohawk Lakes. For those who wish to hike further, the trail may be followed an additional two miles to several more lakes.
This trail is extremely popular. Arrive early in the summer.
Fredonia Gulch Trail (Moderate)
Fredonia Gulch Trail seems to be relatively unknown compared to most of the aforementioned trails. The dirt parking area only holds three to four cars. The 4.5 mile out-and-back trail follows and old mining road. Though short in mileage, the elevation gain of 1,341 feet makes the mine hike near Breckenridge moderate.
Though I’m not the biggest fan of hiking up roads, this one is flush with wildflowers during the summer, offers some nice views, but most of all features expansive mining remains. I was pleasantly surprised by this silver mine whose output exceeded $25,000 (approx. $450K in today’s dollars) by 1941.
Wheeler Lake (Hard to the Lake, Easy to the Mill)
There is more than one Wheeler Lake. This trailhead is in between Breckenridge and Fairplay. The dirt parking area is small.
The trail to Wheeler Lake remains snowy, muddy, and wet late into the season. That said, the difficult 6.9 mile hike to the lake is amazing. For those who don’t wish to tackle the sometimes 30% grade, don’t worry. The Magnolia Mill is at the base of the trail! It hardly requires a hike. In fact, the drive to the trailhead past Montgomery Reservoir, which covers the old mining town, might be harder.
The mill’s dilapidated structure, once used to process the silver and gold brought down from the above peaks, crosses the trail. I personally think it is really cool!
Mount Sherman (As Hard or Easy as You Make It)
Mount Sherman is one of Colorado’s famous 14ers. Don’t let that scare you. Mining relics are scattered all over the slopes with some located at the beginning of the trailhead. As a result, the hike may be as hard or as easy as you make it.
I haven’t seen many mining relics on 14ers, so to me, this was a nice addition to bagging a peak. For those considering completing the entire 5 mile trail, while all 14ers are hard, Mount Sherman is one of the easier ones. I highly recommend reviewing the route and conditions on 14ers.com before attempting the hike that is 100% above treeline.
Being fascinated by miners and the grit it took to mine unforgiving terrain, I find these historic structures so interesting. I can only imagine the activities and stories that come from these mine hikes near Breckenridge. ETB
Other Articles About Hikes Near Breckenridge You May Like
- Roadtrip to the Rockies: A Weekend in Breckenridge
- Beautiful Hike to Upper Cataract Lake
- Segment 7 of the Colorado Trail
- Labor Day Weekend on the Colorado Trail – Segment 6
- Summiting Quandary Peak
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