The Spruce Creek Trail in Breckenridge is the reason mountain bikers do what they do. The varied riding, the scenery, and a touch of mining history combine to make for a memorable day out on the trail. The trail leads to the Mohawk Lakes, which is nestled in a spectacular glacial valley carved during the last ice age, and surrounded by the 13,950-foot Pacific Peak and 13,164-foot Mount Helen in Breckenridge's Ten Mile Range.
The Pike’s Peak Gold Rush of 1858 first brought miners to the area, and panning for gold in the streams around Breck quickly became the main industry. When the Bland-Allison Act of 1878 made silver more valuable (it more or less upped the amount the government had to buy), mining operations expanded. When the price of silver plummeted in 1893, many mining camps were deserted. It’s these ruins that are still visible along the trails today.
What Makes It Great
Riding Spruce Creek is pleasure to the senses—the blue sky, the green pines, and the multi-hued wildflowers is something out of a Bob Ross painting. Start the day by riding through stands of aspens, then through tunnels of vanilla-scented lodgepole, spruce, and fir forest. Climb above treeline and roll across alpine tundra for postcard-worthy views.
The entire day is spent above 10,000 feet, starting just over 10,000 feet, with the highest point at Mohawk Lake topping out just over 12,000 feet. At this altitude, the views are unparalleled.
About 2.5 miles in, and before tackling the steep switchbacks, take a well-earned breather and view the Continental Falls, Breck’s largest. The churning whitewater cascades down three deep, dramatic chasms and over its rocky face. Keep an eye out on the switchbacks for a few side trails that lead the bold and brave to the edge of the falls for up-close, not-to-miss views.
Continue on to the switchbacks up to Mohawk Lake. Don’t miss the mining cabin, either—there is no shortage of things to see on this trail. Once you get above treeline, you’ll find epic views of the dramatic Tenmile range and Mount Helen.
Who is Going to Love It
Cyclists of varying ability with decent fitness will enjoy Spruce Creek. The riding itself is fun, and moderate enough to enjoy the view, while engaging enough to keep riders entertained and engaged.
The trail is extremely popular with hikers, dog walkers, and trail runners as well, so be careful going around turns.
Photographers looking to get some pictures that are Instagram or frame-worthy need to look no further. The clear skies, dramatic views, and gorgeous, interesting scenery are perfect. Bring a polarising filter for deeper blues and the best contrast.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
From Breckenridge, take Hwy 9 south for about 2.5 miles. Turn right into the Crown subdivision at Spruce Creek Road (CR800). Follow blue diamonds on the trees through the subdivision. There is a lower, two-wheel drive lot after about 1.2 miles. Four wheel drive or high clearance vehicles can continue another 1.5 miles to the upper trailhead. The lower lot fills up quickly in the summer, so get there early.