If there is one intermediate family hike that encapsulates everything wonderful about Summit County, it is the Mohawk Lake Trail. From sweeping vistas, historic ruins, and ore cars to waterfalls and close-up views of massive, rugged peaks, the Mohawk Trail is a great, 7-mile trail that should not be missed. You can reach the trailhead by driving south out of Breckenridge on U.S. 9. As you reach the last stoplight on your way out of Breckenridge, you will travel 2.4 miles before reaching Spruce Creek Road. Turn right onto Spruce Creek Road and proceed uphill for 1.2 miles to a well-marked parking area and the Spruce Creek Trailhead.
What Makes It Great
Start out on Spruce Creek Trail and enjoy a walk along a rolling, easy trail through the woods. Just past two miles, cross a 4WD road (the extension of Spruce Creek Road, where you parked) where a signed trail junction points you to the Mayflower Lakes trail. Take it and continue on towards this fine collection of low alpine lakes that will serve as the prelude to the Mohawk Lakes.
From Mayflower Lake, it is a steady climb of about one mile to the old mill ruins, bypassing the rushing waters of Continental Falls before coming to Lower Mohawk Lake. The weathered, wooden mining structures are pleasantly photogenic, though most agree they pale in comparison to the natural beauty of the Mohawk Lakes basin.
The trail will eventually climb upward to Mohawk Lake, the largest of the Mohawk Lake collection. The trail itself tends to fade out as you ascend above treeline, but the navigation will be easy—just follow the lakes, connected by chains of streams. After a nice climb, you arrive at the highest lake, Upper Mohawk Lake at 12,930'. 13,950' Pacific Peak dominates the western horizon. It shares a saddle with 13,852' Crystal Peak. Crystal connects to 13,164' Mount Helen on the northern wall of the basin. Once you've enjoy the lakes, head back the way you came or, if you want a less-scenic shortcut, you can go to the end of the Spruce Creek 4x4 Road (just below the mine ruins) and walk directly back by staying on the main road.
Who is Going to Love It
This is a moderately difficult hike, as there is a bit of elevation gain from after the first two miles of hiking, but most hikers and older kids will have no problem. It's hard to overstate just how beautiful the Mohawk Lakes basin is—it rivals the best alpine scenery in Colorado. Approaching Lower Mohawk Lake even gives the illusion of an infinity pool as the flat surface seems to meld into the horizon. Day hikers, photographers, and especially those who love mountainous water features and wildflowers will absolutely love this adventure.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Drive south out of Breckenridge on U.S. 9. At about 2.4 miles from the last light as you leave Breckenridge you turn right on Spruce Creek Rd. and proceed for about 1.2 miles to a well marked parking area and trailhead.
Thanks to Summit County Explorer for providing original content.