Winter is a season of unpredictable weather and trail conditions. However, it is a magical time to hike/snowshoe in Colorado and a season not to miss! I found I love winter hiking! It’s quiet, beautiful and one of Colorado’s best-kept secrets. Not everyone hikes in winter so the mountain trails become yours!
In the deep winter months, the trails in general near our Mountain Towns are already packed down by previous hikers and snowshoers. In most cases, only traction devices are needed. However, we bring snowshoes with us but rarely need them.
Summit County area offers a variety of beautiful beginner trails for beginner and intermediate winter hikes. Here are our favorites.
Mayflower Gulch is a great backcountry getaway every season. Easy to get to and doable for just about anyone. Make this trail once, and you’ll be back!
After hiking through a snow-filled forest, the view of Mt Fletcher and the Ten Mile Range are before you, and it is staggering. You can’t help but be in awe. Scattered mining cabins from the early 1900s Boston Mine Camp makes for a spectacular setting beneath the snowy peaks.
Mayflower Gulch trail begins at a high altitude leading you close to the timberline quickly. A hike you will go back to over and over, in every season. The easy access to the trailhead makes it a favorite Colorado trail for all skill levels.
Hike: to Boston Mine Camp, 1.8 miles, starts at 10,994 ft., ends at 11,980 ft.
Rated: easy to moderate
Open to: hiking, snowshoeing, nordic skiing, dogs, mountain bikes
Note: Some avalanche-prone areas on the upper end of the trail
Located in: Arapaho National Forest
The Trailhead is located approximately 6.2 miles on Hwy 91 (Fremont Pass) from Copper Mountain heading towards Leadville. It is easy to miss! Watch for it on your left. You will find a good size parking area.
SPRUCE CREEK TRAIL LOOP
Spruce Creek Trail loop is beautiful in each season. Starting off meandering through a forest of pines with the added option of hiking to Mohawk Lakes above treeline, it’s genuinely Colorado at its best. Located in stunning Blue River, CO, near Breckenridge, CO, you can’t go wrong.
You will find a moderate ascent through a spectacular winter wonderland winding through stillness and quiet like we all crave now and then — only the sound of snow crunching beneath your boots.
Spruce Creek Trail is also the hike that takes you to Continental Falls and Mohawk Lakes Trail. The snow gets significantly deeper near the Mohawk Lakes Trailhead and is much more strenuous. Snowshoes recommended.
NORTH TEN MILE CREEK TRAIL
Are you looking for a relaxing hike through classic Colorado scenery and a babbling creek alongside you? North Ten Mile CreekTrail is it! Perfect trail for all seasons. Bring your snowshoes in winter, your camera in fall, your fishing pole, and your wildflower book in summer, and relish all Colorado has to offer in one place.
BAKER’S TANK TRAIL
Bakers Tank Trail is famous for year-round outdoor enthusiasts just 3.5 miles up Boreas Pass from Breckenridge, CO. Starting in a dense forest covered in fresh deep snow on a steady uphill grade and returning on Boras Pass Road, which boasts incredible views of Breckenridge’s highest peaks.
Rated: easy to moderate
Approx: 5.5 miles out and back
Start Elevation: 10,385 ft
Open to dogs, horses
Open to snowshoeing, XC skiing
The trail is well marked
Baker’s Tank Trailhead is part of the Boreas Pass Loop. Boreas Pass Road will be closed at 3 miles for the winter. Here you will find the trailhead.
Swany Arctic Mitten – Love these gloves. Keeps me happy with warm fingers. Add hand warmers & love winter again!
Smartwool Merino Sport Fleece Wind Tights – My favorite pants for hiking in winter. Warm, comfortable, and last forever!
We are just discovering winter hiking in Vail. Gorgeous
Davos Trail just minutes from the town of Vail, CO is stunning in winter! Deep snowbanks sparkle in the bright sun as bare Aspen trees mixed with pines line the trail. The higher you hike the more winter wonderland awaits with views that will take your breath away. Did I mention the views? They steal the show as dramatic snow-covered peaks of the Gore Range appear over the horizon and follow you the rest of the way.
Beginner or avid hiker this is a trail for winter months to get outside!
5.7 miles out & back
833 elevation gain
Dogs ok on leash
ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK
Hiking in the off-season in Rocky Mountain National Park is quiet and incredibly beautiful. We usually come in late spring before the summer and fall reservations start. Highly recommend it for winter/spring hiking!
Preparing makes all the difference in making it an enjoyable and safe experience.
First – check the forecast for the area you plan to hike. If it looks terrible, don’t go! However, if it seems nice, ALWAYS check for avalanche warnings. They can happen in nice weather too. Throughout the US >>> Avalanche.org.
In Colorado: >>> Colorado Avalanche Information Center
NOTABLE ITEMS TO CONSIDER
>MICROSPIKES: Don’t leave without them! Simply attach them to the bottom of your hiking boots and hiking in winter will be safer, easier, and much more enjoyable. Easy to stash in your backpack for changing conditions.
>SNOWSHOES: I find it a rare occurrence when I need my snowshoes with so many trails packed down from previous hikers. However, I have had to turn around when I did not have snowshoes with me. Which has been a disappointment! Postholing is not fun! So if heading up into a high elevation I recommend attaching them to your backpack.
>TREKKING POLES: Add winter baskets to your poles and they will make hiking in winter much easier.
>SUNGLASSES: A must in Colorado sunshine. Snow glare is intense.
>GAITERS: Essential for deep snow which I often encounter somewhere along a trail even if most areas are minimal snowpack. They help keep the snow from getting down in my boots. Plus, they keep my legs warmer.
One thing I’ve learned is owning gear has given me the freedom to get outside on a whim without any excuses! Even if it’s winter. Once I purchased everything I needed I only buy hand and foot warmers on a regular basis. Otherwise, it simply watching the weather, and off I go.