This winter had some incredibly extreme snowfall. As all that snow melts and moves down the mountain it encourages stunning, well-watered wildflowers. The more moisture the mountains get, the more magnificent the wildflowers are. This year is sure to be spectacular. You can discover wildflowers on any hike in the area, but these five hikes offer particularly beautiful displays of the mountain’s finest.
Black Powder Pass
Black Powder Pass trail is accessible from Boreas Pass Road. From Breckenridge, take Boreas Pass all the way to the top. The trail begins at the section house. It is a 3.4 mile out and back trail. It climbs through an open meadow and offers amazing views in all directions. In July and August, the meadow features all of Colorado’s best wildflowers. The road to access the trail is closed during the winter. Because of the high amount of snowfall this year it may be closed later than usual. You may want to save this trail for later in the summer.
This trail is accessed off of Ski Hill Road. During the winter it serves as cross country ski and snowshoe trails for the Breckenridge Nordic Center. The trail meanders through meadows, by streams and ponds, and through forest offering a range of wildflower habitats. There is little elevation gain over 2.9 miles making it an excellent beginner hike or first day at elevation hike. You are also likely to see moose and other wildlife along the way. The trail is closed until July 9th for wildlife conservation.
This short, 1.5 mile hike is ideal for families. You can access the trail from town, so you don’t need a car to get there. Look for the trailhead near the Snowflake Lift. This trail winds back and forth across the creek with the help of charming wooden bridges. It is forested, so you can see all of the wildflowers that enjoy the shade offered by tree cover.
Guided hike on the Horseshoe Bowl Hiking Loop
One of the best ways to see high alpine flowers is to take a chair lift. You can take the Colorado SuperChair to Alpine Camp. Every day at 11:45 there is a free ranger guided hike through this area. Learn all about the landscape as you hike this high alpine terrain. You can learn more about the area and how to get lift tickets at breckenridge.com.
You will have to drive a bit to get here, but it is worth the distance. Emma Lake can be found outside of Alma, a small mountain town just on the north side of Hoosier Pass. Take the road to the Kite Lake day use area. This is a popular jumping off point for several fourteeners. There is a small fee to park here. The trail wanders through open meadows and climbs to a stunning high alpine lake. The wildflowers are dense and brilliant, especially along the stream that flows through the meadow. The road to Kite Lake can be difficult to navigate. It is best to take this trail later in the summer when the roads are dry.
Remember, as you hike that the same conditions that make wildflowers so abundant can also make the trails difficult. Roads may be wetter than usual and even impassible. Wear sturdy hiking boots and wool socks so that your feet will stay comfortable even if they get wet. There may still be snowfields to cross even late into summer. If you are headed to high alpine terrain, do it early in the morning to avoid being caught in a dangerous afternoon thunderstorm. Whether you trek to a high alpine lake or hike forested trails near town, any trail is sure to offer bountiful mountain wildflowers.
Photos by Louie Traub courtesy of Breckenridge Office of Tourism