The drive to the top of Hoosier Pass alone makes this a worthwhile day trip. As you leave Breckenridge you’ll wind your way along the scenic State Highway 9 past the sleepy community of Blue River, gradually climbing to a continental divide crossing at 11,540 feet. Situated at the intersection of White River Wilderness and Pike National Forest, Hoosier Pass offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains, including three fourteeners: Mount Lincoln, Mount Cameron, and Mount Bross.
What Makes It Great
The Hoosier Pass Loop offers a little bit of everything, from high alpine environment to unique geographical and geological boundaries, and a little bit of the area’s history as well. Much of this hike is located above treeline, giving you commanding views of the surrounding areas, but you can also see native plants that blanket the open hillside, like the Rocky Mountain Columbine.
Hoosier Pass sits at a low point of Hoosier Ridge, which marks the boundary of Summit County to the north and Park County to the south. Hoosier Pass is also a watershed delineation, with water from the north and western slopes flowing into the Colorado River (and eventually the Pacific Ocean), while water from the southern and eastern slopes flows down to the Gulf of Mexico.
To start your hike, take the Jeep road heading west from the far side of the parking lot, and start a gentle climb along the ridgeline. Looking left off of the trail, you’ll be able to see Montgomery Reservoir nestled in the valley below you. From here the trail becomes much less obvious and hikers must begin to navigate using cairns (stacks of rocks). For experienced hikers looking for a bit more challenge, continue straight ahead for the summit of North Star Peak, which extends the hike to 7.8 miles round trip with 2,600 feet of gain. Additionally there are segments of North Star Peak that are ranked as Class 2 and 3, meaning sections of scrambling suited only for adept hikers.
Back on the original loop, make a u-turn and look for another trail leading to your right back down the hill, this time on the other side of the ridgeline. The trail starts as a well-defined Jeep road, but quickly fades and becomes less distinct. Keep an eye out and bear right. You will pass an abandoned mine shortly before you rejoin the jeep trail that you took on your way out. Do not get within 30 feet of a open mine shaft, as the ground around them can become destabilized and collapse. Never enter an abandoned mine.
Once you rejoin the original Jeep road, head left and walk down the hill to return to your car.
There are no restrooms or facilities of any kind at the pass, so be sure to fill your water bottles and take care of any ahem, errands, before leaving town.
Who is Going to Love It
This hike is great for families with kids, or for those who are looking for a high alpine hike. You get the views that come above the treeline, without having to actually hike above the treeline to get there. Less than half a mile into the hike there is a small meadow—perfect for a snack or lunch break with plenty of unobstructed views.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Head southbound on Hwy 9 leaving Breckenridge. From downtown Breck it’s only 19 miles to the top of Hoosier pass. Look for the continental divide sign on the right (west) side of the road. Park at the dirt pull out here.
Parking is free and like most day hiking in Colorado, you do not need a permit.