The Best Summit County Hikes to do With Your Kids
FAMILY FRIENDLY HIKES IN SUMMIT COUNTY
Summit County is a terrific place for the whole family to enjoy during the Summer months. While we have countless expert hiking routes that take you to dramatic rocky ridges, high above tree line, there are also many hikes appropriate for kids of all ages, that are sure to leave everyone in awe. Because of the high altitude of Summit County, as well as the dirt roads created by miners many years ago, you don’t have to hike far to get terrific views and great scenery. Below is a list of some of the best hikes for families with children in the county.
Accessed from Zach’s Stop trailhead, off of 2nd Ave. in Frisco, the trail to Rainbow Lake is generally flat and features multiple stream crossings through a forest. After about one mile, you reach a lake where beavers and other wildlife frequent. Please observe all wildlife from a safe distance. 2 miles round-trip.
This out and back trail has no definitive stopping point but follows a creek up a beautiful valley. At the 2-mile mark, you reach the Eagles Nest Wilderness boundary line, this is a great turnaround point. Do not be discouraged by the steeper grade at first, after about a mile it opens up and levels off. This hike is filled with abundant flora and fauna. Take into account that if you go further than two miles in and you reach the wilderness boundary, group size is limited to 15 people and dogs must be kept on leash.
If you’re looking for a short hike with amazing 360 degree views, Old Dillon Reservoir is hard to beat! This 0.8 mile hike brings you up 137 vertical feet to a beautiful viewpoint above Dillon Reservoir, that offers views all the way up and down the Blue River Valley. Take in the scenery of Buffalo Mountain and the Gore Range to the North, Peak 1 and the Tenmile Range to the West, Baldy & Guyot to the South, and the Williams Fork Mountain Range to the East.
After passing a clear cut area offering expansive views of Dillon Reservoir and the valley below, you will start hiking up through a thick lodgepole pine and aspen forest. At 1.4 miles, you will reach two small ponds, the larger is Lilypad Lake. This trail enters the Eagles Nest Wilderness where group size is limited to 15 people and dogs must be kept on leash. This parking area is small and fills up quickly, so it is recommended to get there early. If the parking lot is full, please park at the bottom of the hill at Lowe’s and take the free, Summit Stage bus up to the trailhead.
This trail is 35 minutes North of Silverthorne, close to the town of Heeney. There is a 2-mile loop trail around the lake that can be hiked in either direction. Enjoy a wide array of wildflowers in June and early July and look up above the West end of the lake to catch a glimpse of a large waterfall in the dense forest and cliffs above. This is a great spot to spend the day with the family and have a picnic while overlooking the lake and surrounding mountains. This trail is in the Eagles Nest Wilderness and group size is limited to 15 people and dogs must be kept on leash. There is no trail to the waterfall. Therefore, hiking to the waterfall is strongly discouraged due to steep and slippery terrain.
This trail is a great place to take in the golden color of the changing aspens in September. Drive up to near tree line and take in astounding views of Breckenridge Ski Resort and the rest of the Ten Mile Range running North to Frisco. There is also dispersed camping near this trail on Boreas Pass Road.
This trail is a must if you are staying on the mountain of Breckenridge, especially if staying on Peak 9. This is a wide, mellow trail meandering along a creek could be great for a larger group with a wide age range. If you follow it long enough, it wanders up into a more open, alpine environment.
Another must if you’re staying on the mountain of Breckenridge, especially Peak 7 or 8. This trail travels through a dense forest with little views of mountain peaks, but the gentle grade, stream crossings, and particularly tall trees lining the trail make it highly desirable. You can take this trail all the way to Frisco’s Zach’s Stop Trailhead from Peak 7, (or vice versa,) however with younger kids we don’t recommend this, as it is 7.8 miles one way. With older kids, it might be a fun hike to Frisco for ice cream, and then take the free Summit Stage bus back to Breck. This is a very popular trail with mountain bikers, so be cautious and keep your group close together, especially around corners.
DILLON & KEYSTONE
If you are looking for good views without having to hike uphill at all, Oro Grande is sure to provide. This is a great one for all ages, young and old. Look out over Dillon Reservoir and see Peak 1 and the Tenmile Range popping out above the masts of the sailboats below. This is also a popular trail with mountain bikers, so be aware and keep little ones close.
This popular 0.7 mile loop is the perfect spot to have a picnic with the family. Drive up to the summit of Swan Mountain Road and walk just a short distance from the parking lot to enjoy incredible views high up above the blue waters of Dillon Reservoir. At the far side of the loop, there are picnic tables. You will see chipmunks at the overlook area, but PLEASE DO NOT FEED THE CHIPMUNKS. In addition, many efforts have been taken to rehabilitate the trampled areas surrounding the trail, PLEASE STAY ON THE TRAIL.
These trails will pass through stands of lodgepole pine and aspen groves and offer views of the Keystone golf course and across the valley to Frey Gulch. Start on the Cah-Vah trail then loop back on the Keystone Aqueduct trail for a mellow just over 2-mile hike. Alternatively you could cut up to the Aqueduct trail on the Darwin Trail, and loop back to shorten the hike considerably. These trails are open to mountain bikes as well as horses, so keep your eye out and be courteous of all trail users.
Have a great time respectfully enjoying all the beautiful family friendly trails that Summit County has to offer! Each trail name above is linked to the Recreation Opportunity Guide (ROG), with directions to the trailhead, trail highlights, mileage, elevation gain, and a topographic map of the area.