Written by Kelly King
Fall, like spring, is shorter in Summit County. Fall foliage begins to visibly change in early September and the golden display ends before October. Although foliage season doesn’t last long, and the reds and browns that define fall in so many other parts of the country are absent here, the changing aspen leaves light up the mountainside in spectacular yellows for a show you won’t see anywhere else. In a sense, the aspen tree defines life in the mountains of Colorado. Unlike so many other trees, aspens thrive at higher altitudes and on cooler temperatures — they’re the “ski bums” of the natural world. Aspens are survivors, sinking their roots so far below ground that forest fires and other threats cannot touch them. Sometimes these root networks live for thousands of years while their trunks above ground come and go.
Breckenridge and Summit County offer plenty of great vantage points for enjoying the distinct and bright performance put on every fall by the Aspens. For even more great ideas, stop by the Breckenridge Welcome Center or visit www.breckenridgetrails.org.
At 11,400 ft., the peak of Boreas Pass Road provides beautiful views of Breckenridge and the surrounding mountains. Experience the changing seasons by car or on one of the trails running parallel to the road. For a longer drive, drive toward Breckenridge on Highway 9 from Hoosier Pass, turn left onto highway 285 and left onto Boreas Pass Road before descending into town.
Located about one mile from Wellington/French Gulch/Reiling Road intersection, this trail area is not only a great place for viewing foliage but has historical significance as well. The trails pass through the Golden Horseshoe, a region intricately tied up into Breckenridge’s mining past. The Breckenridge Heritage Alliance offers guided hikes here.
Gold Run Gulch Road
This old mining road is accessible from Tiger Road between Breckenridge and Frisco and provides yet another great viewpoint from which to enjoy mountain foliage changes. Aspens line the road, creating a canopy for walkers and bikers.
The trail toward Rainbow Lake begins at the end of 7th Ave. in Frisco and almost immediately plunges hikers and bikers into aspen groves. The alpine lake is a popular destination for those with dogs.