Why would you go to Breckenridge in fall? As one local resident, mountain bike pro, and chef put it, “Why wouldn’t you?” Autumn is a special time in this Colorado mountain town.
When I arrived in mid-September, I half-expected a ghost town: after all, Breck is known for skiing. Instead, I found a town alive with a quiet, happy hum of activity: tourists and locals alike were enjoying the fall weather while hiking, biking, and enjoying special events only found in Breck in fall. Here’s what to do with a weekend getaway with or without the kids:
Leaf peeping is at its peak in September! For a challenging hike, head up Spruce Creek Road (just a few miles out of town off Hwy 9) and park at Spruce Creek Trailhead. The Spruce Creek Trail takes hikers through alpine forests for just over two miles, then connects with the Mohawk Lakes Trail. This final 1.7 mile section gets steep, past snow melt waterfalls and the remains of mining structures en route to Lower and Upper Mohawk lakes…well worth the effort. Look for mountain goats and plenty of fall color on the slopes opposite.
Need more ideas for local hikes or want to hike with an expert? Contact CBST Adventures in town and go with a pro!
Get a massage:
While in Breck, I had the best massage of my life at Harmony Health Massage and Wellness Spa. What made it so special? Owner and massage therapist Inanna Hall, who took on the task of getting travel day stress out of my shoulders and neck from a holistic, almost spiritual approach. Her philosophy is to approach any massage from an intuitive angle, and it showed. I had one of her synergy massages, and added a session with oxygen for only $30. This is a smart thing to do while adjusting to Breckenridge’s high altitude.
Get on a mountain bike:
There’s more mountain biking in and around Breckenridge than you’ll know what to do with. Pick up a hiking and biking trail map when you arrive, and use the universal green (easy), blue (intermediate), and black (expert) color coding to pick your routes. Most of the marked trails around town are single or double track, though dirt roads can be tacked on for good measure. As a beginner-intermediate mountain biker, these are the trails I tackled:
- Lower Flume: Access the Lower Flume trail directly from town via the recreational bike path (more on that below). From the Breckenridge Recreation Center, follow the path out of town to where it connects with Lower Flume. Or, follow Main Street down to the 7-Eleven, turn right, and access from the recycling center.
- Betty’s Trail: Find this intermediate trail right off Reiling Road. It’s just under one mile, and parallels the road most of the way (you won’t get disoriented). While it goes up and down, it’s not too rocky, though you’ll want to take care on the sharp turns.
- Turk’s Trail and Reiling Drudge Trail: Further up Reiling, a parking lot offers access to a wider network of trails, including intermediate Turk’s and easy (and short) Reiling Drudge. Turk’s has quite the incline and tends to be rocky, but intermediate to advanced riders will love that it connects to more in the blue category, or can be looped with easy B&B.The Reiling Drudge Trail is fun because of the historical plaques marking remnants of mining history in the area.
- XLOU8: My favorite intermediate trail I experienced, XLOU8 can be accessed from the same Reiling Drudge parking lot, and connects to Minnie Mine trail. It’s up and down, fairly free of rocks, and has an interesting mine to ride past.
- Pence Miller: This intermediate trail can be accessed directly from Mountain Thunder Lodge via a short access trail. It winds above the resort area at the bottom section of the ski runs.
Pick up a mountain bike to rent for the day or multiple days at Avalanche Sports, located on North Main. They’ll give you a helmet, which is essential. Also bring water, a snack, and a layer or two for any ride. While it’s easy to return back to town fairly quickly from most easy and intermediate trails, it’s still good to be prepared for any weather. Find trail maps here.
Not sure you want to mountain bike? Take the recreational bike path through town instead. This paved path runs almost to Keystone!
Take a distillery tour:
The Breckenridge Distillery has a tasting room on Main Street, but also a full factory tour offered at their distillery on Airport Road. This tour is fascinating…and yes, it includes samples. Each tour is 30 minutes, and takes guests from a tasting area to the distilling rooms and barreling rooms. Our tour guide knew the business inside-out, and answered all our questions relating to both the distilling process and the variety of spirits created (which include vodka, bourbon whiskey, bitters, and seasonal specialties). Tours are free! Must be 21 or over.
Stroll around town:
Main Street runs from the ski resort village all the way down to the far end of town, and is chock full of great dining and shopping. And no, it’s not dead in the fall. Instead, it’s intimate, with locals emerging after a busy tourist summer season. Check out the shops, eat a crepe at Crepes a la Cart, grab a craft cocktail at Modis, and just take in the scene. While walking downtown, consider taking a historic walking tour from the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance.
Need dining recs? We have them!
Take in the Breck Film Fest:
The Breck Film Fest takes over town one week every September, and is a fun opportunity to see Hollywood in the mountains. Come for opening night, and grab affordable tickets to the opening show or opening night party. We were lucky enough to see the feature film for the festival’s Adventure Reel, Snowman. The atmosphere is relaxed, casual, and ultra-cool.
What do you like to do in Breckenridge? In what season?