Summit County Biking: Minnie Mine trail (video)
SUMMIT COUNTY — Minnie Mine is a true diamond in the rough. Early miners in the French Gulch area were more concerned with dredging than singletrack, but, more than 100 years later, the remnants of mines, shafts and tailings are still strewn across the hillside, peeking out between aspen and pine tree stands.
As one of several trails running parallel to French Gulch Road, it stays relatively flat and flowy, with only two or three brief uphill grinds. It also tends to dry out quickly, leaving the entire 1.2-mile loop ready to ride by late April or early May most years. If you’ve been in search of a daily lunchtime ride, look no further.
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KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
The French Gulch area is one of the busiest for mountain bike traffic, so be wary of weekends and sun-drenched afternoons, and always keep an eye open for dogs and foot traffic. It’s a hot spot for hiking.
All trails in the area are well-marked and impeccably maintained. No overnight parking is allowed at any of the trailheads along French Gulch Road.
Minnie Mine is a quasi-loop, with two trailheads found about 3 miles past the end of the pavement on French Gulch Road. The first trailhead winds uphill along a rocky, wide-open portion of trail before narrowing down to true singletrack. The second trailhead, found about 3/4-mile past the first, begins at the Reiling Dredge parking lot and heads west toward town along a gradual uphill grade.
Either direction is a blast, and, at just over 1 mile, riders can tempt both routes in the same trip and have time to spare. But, first-timers will likely enjoy beginning from the second trailhead. It’s singletrack at its finest, with well-worn trails, very few technical sections and a cave-like feeling from overhanging aspens as you get closer to the mid-trail mine site.
From the Reiling Dredge lot, head up the singletrack past the left-hand turn for X10U8 and keep grinding for about 3/4 mile until you reach the abandoned mine site. The trail continues for another 1/2 mile before reaching a fork at another old mine site.
Straight leads to the Side Door trail, which in turn connects to Prospector Trail and a slew of other routes winding through private property.
That’s the beauty of the French Gulch system: the combinations are endless.
Take a hard left at the Side Door fork to reconnect with the Minnie Mine trail. It can get steep in sections, with an occasional mound of tricky rocks and roots. Follow it for another 1/2 mile of pure descent past smaller mine remnants before popping out on French Gulch Road.
Once you’re there, turn around and give your lungs a workout by pumping in the opposite direction.
Minnie Mine and the remaining French Gulch trails (X10U8, B&B Trail, Side Door) are all accesible by French Gulch Road. From Breckenridge, head east on County Road 450 and bear right at the junction with Forest Hills Drive. Continue another 1/2 mile to the stop sign. Take French Gulch Road and continue through the neighborhood until the road turns to dirt. From there, drive 3 miles to the Reiling Dredge Trailhead. Parking is on the left.
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The Lake Christine Fire charred thousands of acres of national forest and downed timber of three popular hiking and biking trails on Basalt Mountain. Two of those trails reopened this month thanks to the efforts of the Aspen-Sopris District trail crew.