Go Play: Cool off with a High Country bike trip | PostIndependent.com

Go Play: Cool off with a High Country bike trip

Alan and Karen Rishel, from Las Cruces, N.M., round a curve as they near the Illinois Creek Trailhead.
Mark Fox / Summit Daily File Photo |

Fend off Grand Junction’s summer heat with a roadtrip to Colorado’s High Country. Bring bikes, snacks and stay for dinner. With Breckenridge only two-and-a-half hours away by car, you can be home by bedtime.


Great for a quick trail ride from downtown Breckenridge, the Illinois Creek Trail system provides a number of short loops as well a connection to the Blue River Trail. Located behind the Steven C. West Ice Arena, the trail system is a short ride from Main Street and typically rideable June to October. It includes minimal elevation gain, making it a good warm up for anybody new to the area or just looking to get a short ride in.

Know Before You Go: The Illinois Creek Trail System is located on an area of land just behind the Stephen C. West Ice Arena, off Boreas Pass Road, on the east side of Hwy. 9. Maps of this trail system are available from the town of Breckenridge Open Space and Trails Department 970-547-3155 located at Breckenridge Town Hall or at area bike shops.

Parking: Parking for the Illinois Creek Trail system is available at the Stephen C. West Ice Arena on Boreas Pass Road.

Description: The Illinois Creek Trail System provides a low-level ADA loop around the ice rink along the river bank, which now serves as an interpretive loop and historic park associated with the Rotary snowplow. Although the Illinois Creek Trail System is relatively short, numerous loop opportunities are available throughout it. To add mileage the main loop can link to the Blue River trail.


Geared toward riders of all ages and abilities, the Blue River Recreational Path parallels the Blue River, connecting Breckenridge and Frisco. This paved recpath is a popular route for cyclists all summer long.

Know Before You Go: This trail is one of the most heavily used sections of the Summit County Recreational Pathway System, especially during the summer weekends and holidays. Anticipate a large number of other bikers and hikers on this popular trail. Also expect to encounter a number of people stopped along the way. The trail crosses several roads and driveways that have vehicular and large-truck traffic. Use caution when crossing these areas.

Parking: In Breckenridge, drive on Watson Street one block west of Main Street. Parking is available on both the north and south sides of Watson Street. The trail begins at Watson Street on the west side of the Blue River and continues north. Other parking areas include the Kingdom Park/Breckenridge Recreation Center, Gold Hill Trailhead off Gateway Drive — County Road 950 — and the Dillon Reservoir Blue River Inlet Parking Area.

Description: Start at the Watson Street parking lot in Breckenridge and follow the recpath along the Blue River adjacent to commercial shops, the Summit County Justice Center and Kingdom Park. At French Street and North Park the trail passes through an underpass next to the river (watch out for water and gravel in these areas). Kingdom Park and a scenic reclaimed section of the Blue River are along the route. At the County Road 3 crossing the trail swings to the west and follows the abandoned Denver, South Park and Pacific narrow gauge railroad grade. Near the Snowbridge Rest Stop, the trail swings back closer to Highway 9 and crosses several roads that have heavy truck traffic on and off the highway. Use caution when crossing these gravel roads. The trail then crosses a pedestrian bridge over the river. Please do not stop on the bridge, as it creates congestion on the path. At the base of Gold Hill the trail is constructed on the top of an elevated, 1,800-foot retaining wall above the highway. A fenced horse meadow borders the west side of the trail north of Gold Hill. Watch the horses, but please do not venture out into the meadow. As the trail approaches Farmer’s Korner it veers to the west behind Summit High School, where you will come to an intersection. Continue straight ahead on the Frisco Farmer’s Korner Path. The spur to the right will take you to the intersection with Highway 9 and Swan Mountain Road. The Frisco Farmer’s Korner Trail climbs a series of small hills, then continues through the Bill’s Ranch area. There are several connections to the town of Frisco off the recpath in this section, including Seventh and Second streets. Be aware that vehicles are allowed on the recpath through the Bill’s Ranch section, which also provides access for residents to their homes along the path.

Additional trail information is available in the free annual Explore Summit County Bike Guide.

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