Gold Hill Trail, Gold Hill Trailhead, Summit County - Eagle County - Clear Creek County, Colorado
Gold Hill Trail - 6.6 miles
Gold Hill Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||6.6 miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||9,219' - 9,989' (10,315' max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||+770' net elevation gain (+1,512' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Gold Hill Trail - 6.6 Miles Round-Trip
The Gold Hill Trail is located 6.1 miles south of I-70 on Highway 9 between Frisco and Breckenridge. It runs 3.3 miles west to the Peaks Trail, a N-S artery that connects the two towns. The Gold Hill Trail is part of the Colorado Trail, which runs nearly 500 miles from Denver to Durango.
This short segment begins in the Ten Mile Range foothills and passes through a series of clear cuts made in 1988 and 2008 intended to minimize pine beetle infestation and fire.
Like many other places in Summit County, pine beetles have dramatically impacted these lodgepole forests, and clearing out affected areas triggers recovery by creating space for new growth.
Though large-scale clear cutting may seem anathema to some, it’s vital to the long-term health and safety of these mountain forest communities.
Young aspen have already taken root while native grasses and brush fill the glades. In fact, the Gold Hill Trail is an excellent place to see wildflowers and elk that are drawn to these new food sources.
Despite lacking a true alpine aesthetic, this multiuse trail’s moderate grades are ideal for running, biking, families and winter recreation:
The trail rises above HWY 9 through a broad open slope with good views across the Ten Mile Range and Breckenridge Ski Area.
It climbs steadily into thicker timber and briefly merges with a service road (.95 miles : 9,670’), then immediately veers left back onto the trail. Keep right at an unmarked fork shortly past the road (1.1 miles: 9,770’).
Travel moderates through intervals of clear cuts and thick, uniform lodgepole up to Gold Hill, an unmarked and anticlimactic high point along the trail (2.4 miles : 10,315’). This is a fine stopping point for those with limited time.
From Gold Hill, the trail tilts down a steeper grade that winds to the Peaks Trail junction along Miners Creek (3.3 miles : 9,989’). This verdant, marshy area is a good place to find wildlife. From this point, the Peaks Trail runs 6.5 miles south to Breckenridge, and 3.5 miles north to Frisco.
Bark beetles are native insects which under normal conditions help forests cull older trees and make room for new growth.
Pine beetles affect trees by laying eggs under the bark, introducing a fungus that reduces overall resistance and blocks water and nutrient transport. Periodic outbreaks have occurred throughout history, however none as severe as this recent epidemic.
Cold winters can kill beetle eggs and regulate populations. Unusually hot summers, warm winters and a prolonged dry spell over the region in the last 10 years have led to increased beetle activity while weakening trees natural resistance.
While there is no effective way to safely control an outbreak of this magnitude, recent surveys suggest a modest decline in infestations as the availability of healthy trees has declined.
Interactive GPS Topo MapKey GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84
- N39 32.478 W106 02.544 — 0.0 miles : Gold Hill Trailhead
- N39 32.493 W106 03.032 — .5 miles : Steady climb through clear cut area
- N39 32.549 W106 03.491 — .95 miles : Merge with road and immediately depart left
- N39 32.440 W106 03.532 — 1.1 miles : Unmarked fork - bear right
- N39 32.151 W106 03.649 — 1.5 miles : Intervals of clear cut and thick timber
- N39 32.121 W106 03.934 — 2.0 miles : Northerly bend up to Gold Hill
- N39 32.285 W106 04.210 — 2.4 miles : Top of Gold Hill, begin drop to Miners Creek
- N39 32.371 W106 04.551 — 2.8 miles : Trail crosses forest service road
- N39 32.255 W106 04.903 — 3.3 miles : Trail ends at Peaks Trail junction
- The Colorado Trail passes through six designated wilderness areas and eight mountain ranges with a max elevation of 13,271’. The entire trail climbs 89,354’ between Denver and Durango (source: ColoradoTrail.org).
Camping and Backpacking Information
- Dispersed backcountry camping is permitted in the White River National Forest. No permit is necessary. Camping is prohibited within 100' of any lake or stream. Group size is limited to 15 individuals.
- Campfires are permitted for dispersed camping in the backcountry, with potential seasonal restrictions. Campfires are not permitted above or within .25 miles of treeline, or within 100' of any lake or stream.
- Contact the Dillon Ranger District (970.468.5400) for the latest weather, trail conditions and trail-specific guidelines when planning your trip. The office is open M - F from 8am - 4pm.
- For those not wishing to camp in the backcountry, there are several developed campgrounds within the White River National Forest. Contact the Dillon Ranger District for information on these sites.
Directions to Trailhead
The Gold Hill Trailhead is located 6.1 miles south of I-70 on Highway 9, between Frisco and Breckenridge.
From I-70, take Exit #203 and travel south on HWY 9 through Frisco toward Breckenridge. The trailhead and is located on the west side of the road, 6.1 miles from the I-70 exit on CR 950 (right off HWY 9). The trailhead is marked by a large sign visible from the road as you approach it.
Dillon Ranger District
680 Blue River Parkway
Silverthorne, CO 80498
M - F from 8am - 4pm
White River National Forest
900 Grand Ave.
P.O. Box 948
Glenwood Springs CO 81602