Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Breckenridge - Lodging & Hiking

Yesterday’s journey from Denver through Fairplay had us checking out some pretty quaint little stops and breathtaking views.  Today we’re heading into Breckenridge and talking all about our favorite places to stay, hikes, and scenic spots.  While this is definitely not a comprehensive and exhaustive list of all the lodging and hiking that Breckenridge offers, it’s our little summary of what we’ve experienced in our favorite little mountain town.

We’ve visited in Fall, Winter, and Summer and we love Breckenridge in ANY season.  It’s definitely the least busy in October (from what we’ve experienced) and most busy during Spring Break.  Summer was surprisingly busy as well, but that to be said we really never had long waits when eating out.  It never felt “crowded”.  I’m sure the locals think otherwise, but for a group of occasional visitors, we were never bothered by the amount of people in town.  

I absolutely LOVE being outdoors in Colorado.  It’s almost impossible to stay inside (unless it’s raining, of course).  There’s so much to see and do and hiking is at the top of our list of things we love to do the most.  This past summer we hiked Blue Lakes Trail with some of our friends.  This was the perfect hike to do with kids.  Not too far from downtown, Blue Lakes is a moderate trail right under 2 miles in distance.  It was a fairly simple hike with the reward of a waterfall visit at the end.

The view from Blue Lakes Trail was absolutely breathtaking.  We hiked this trail in July...starting out pretty early in the morning so we could finish up before the daily rainshower...and the weather was perfect.  It was slightly chilly at first start, but after hiking a mile the pullovers came off and the heat turned on.  One of our favorite parts of this hike was our mountain goat sighting.  Apparently mountain goats are commonly seen on this trail and we were lucky enough to spot a family of 3 careening the mountainside.  I highly recommend this trail…with or without the kids.  Just remember to pack the bug spray before you head out.  

The kids absolutely rocked this trail.  Not a complaint from any of them (ages 6, 8, 9, & 10).

Sapphire Point was another family favorite.  This trail overlooks Dillon Lake in Frisco…a 15 minute(ish) drive from Breckenridge.  I think this ended up being the boys’ favorite.  There were chipmunks galore that ate right out of our palms (peanuts!).  This was the first time for my boys to see chipmunks, much less getting close enough to eat right out of their hands, and it was a memory that won’t soon be forgotten.  

There’s a gorgeous spot overlooking the lake that’s a must for photo ops.  We made sure to take one too many :)  

The entire loop trail is less than a mile and easy to walk/hike.  The views are breathtaking and I highly recommend this trail as well.  If you wanted to make a time of it, pack some food.  There are some picnic tables around the loop overlooking the lake that would make a wonderfully scenic lunch spot.  We hiked down off the trails in certain spots to check out some of the random structures that were decorating the area and we all thought that was pretty neat.  This is definitely a trail we'd visit again...simply beautiful!

We had intentions of hiking Mohawk Lakes Trail and Quandary Peak (without the kids), but weren’t able to fit those in so we’re hoping to try again this summer.

This past summer we stayed in a house on Mount Baldy.  One of the draws to this location was the trail leading from our house all the way into town.  I believe it was a 3 mile hike down.  Easy and scenic.  Simply breathtaking!  And definitely one that the kids enjoyed and were able to do easily.

You can also access the Boreas Pass Road here and I highly recommend that as well.  Yesterday I talked about heading into Breckenridge through the Boreas Pass via Como.  If you start in Breckenridge and take Boreas Pass Rd. up to the top, you’ll end up at Boreas Pass/Continental Divide which is home to cabins and railroad remnants.  You’ll also see the Wagon Cabin which is said to be one of the oldest buildings in the Breckenridge area.  There are LOTS of places to stop and pull over along the way up/down….great hiking trails, too.  And if you time it right in the Fall, you’ll get to see Aspen Alley…a stunning tunnel of trees flocked in the most beautiful hues of yellow and orange.  A MUST visit! The most incredibly breathtaking views.

Fall 2015

As for places to stay, we definitely have our favorites.   In the Fall, we love staying at One Ski Hill on Peak 8.  We’ve been able to get some great deals this time of the year and the views are gorgeous. Located at the base of Peak 8 (our favorite ski spot), the property is meticulously maintained and the lodging is cozy and clean.  We’ve always had great experiences with their staff, too.  

They are so accommodating.  We took the boys to Breck last Fall and stayed here and had the most fun bowling on their private lanes on property. When you stay at One Ski Hill, you have the option to take advantage of this free feature and reserving a 30 minute slot in the Mine Shaft for private bowling.  The boys thought that was the coolest. 

Although we don’t stay here in the Spring, we do bring the family to Peak 8 to ski.  We absolutely love One Ski Hill’s Apres ski spot, the T-Bar. When the boys are in ski school, the adults will meet here for lunch and a cocktail and we always end our ski days here with a well earned round of hot chocolates.  

The Epic Discovery is up and running during the summer and also located on Peak 8.  Ziplining, rock wall, alpine sliding, bungee trampoline, maze, mini-golf, tubing, alpine coaster, and MORE!  We went to Epic Discovery our first day in Breck this past Summer.  It was pretty crowded, so we opted to sit out on the patio and enjoy a round of drinks instead standing in the long lines.  We planned on going back later in the week, but things got chaotic, the weather didn’t cooperate, and we didn’t make it back up.  Just gives us something to look forward to this summer for sure!

When we stay at One Ski Hill, we usually stay in the 1 bedroom condo.  We take the bedroom and the kids sleep on the pull-out sofa.  It’s perfect.  One of our favorite features of staying here is the free shuttle that will pretty much take you anywhere in town, pick you up, and bring you back.  We can drive from Denver to Breckenridge, park, and never take the car out again until we leave town.  All-in-all, this resort is definitely right there at the top of our list.  We absolutely LOVE it. 

In the Spring we love staying at Mountain Thunder Lodge.  This resort is right across the street from the gondola which we take up to Peak 8 for skiing.  It’s definitely not a ski in/ski out, so if you’re looking for something like that, I wouldn’t recommend it.  It's more of a ski-in, walk/ride out.  We stayed here in a townhouse with our friends last Spring and thought it was awesome. Well maintained, clean, and spacious.  

And here's what it looked like a couple of years ago when we got about 30 inches of snow the week we stayed for skiing!

Again, we had access to the free shuttle service which was wonderful when all 8 of us wanted to head to Main Street for lunch/dinner/etc.  We were also able to hop on the shuttle and head to the gondola for drop-off.  This was clutch with 8 people and loads of ski gear.  

A couple of years ago we walked via the underground tunnel from Mountain Thunder to the gondola.  Easy and doable, but cumbersome with all the gear and two little skiers :)  I’d definitely love to try a true ski-in/ski out one of these years. Until then, we absolutely love Mountain Thunder Lodge.  Both the condos and the townhouses make the most perfect stay!

A couple of weekends ago we stayed at Main Street Station.  Since it was just me and Adam, we decided we wanted to try staying somewhere in walking distance of everything on Main Street since we knew that’s where we’d be spending most of our time.  We really liked the location.  A lot of the shops & restaurants in Main Street Station were closed during our stay, so I think staying here in the summer or even over Spring Break would probably be a lot more exciting.  We weren’t necessarily looking for a bustling property when we went a few weekends ago, but that’s definitely something you might want to consider if you have kids with you.  Overall, I would recommend it and probably stay there again, but we’d love to try something different next time we visit.

This past summer we ended up renting a house on Mount Baldy since we had an extended stay and several people in our group.  We ended up using VRBO to book our stay.  We found our lodging in April when there were great deals being offered.  If you’re planning on renting during the summer, scout out your location early and then secure it in the Spring.  We tried to find something on AirBNB, but ended up going with VRBO because the pictures of this property and the deal we were offered were just too good to pass up!

We absolutely LOVED our spot overlooking the mountains.  The house was unreal…a LOT bigger than we anticipated, but just perfect for our group.  There was a huge balcony on the main floor overlooking the mountains and an additional second balcony on the bottom floor complete with a hot tub.  You could walk right into the “backyard” and a lower level patio from the bottom balcony/deck.  This was a favorite spot for the kids because the property had an awesome little treehouse for the kids to enjoy.

The kids loved sitting out on the main floor balcony in the mornings and "sketching".  It was the cutest thing.  That was definitely the best feature of the home.  Tons of seating options and a great little swing that was just perfect for pre-storm naps :)

 The best part about our little house was coming home each afternoon and watching the storms roll in over the mountains.  Like clockwork, the rain would start to fall every afternoon between 3 and 5.  Somedays it would last longer than others, but it rained every day of our 2 week stay. 

 The fireplace was used almost every night as was the hot tub.  We kept the windows open for fresh air and the kids really enjoyed their own space upstairs sleeping on the couches and playing with the in-house games.  There was a little something for everyone!

The drive to town was maybe 7 minutes total and we were able to walk about half a mile from our house to the Free Ride bus stop when we didn’t want drive and park.  We absolutely LOVED the location for an extended stay and would absolutely stay here again in a heartbeat.  

If you’re driving in town, be prepared to pay for parking.  You won’t need cash though.  Just a credit or check card and your license plate number.  Before you visit, download the Passport Parking App.  This app allows you to pay for parking on your phone.  You can even add more time to your parking if you end up enjoying your Breckenridge excursions longer than expected.  Parking is a lot less crowded in the Fall than in the Summer.  We haven’t had to battle the parking over Spring Break because we use the shuttle system, but I can imagine that it’s really crazy that time of the year.  Just be prepared :)

While you're in town, be sure to stop by the park area across from the Riverwalk Center.  This is one of our favorite little scenic areas.  In the Fall and Summer, the kids absolutely love taking off their shoes, wading in the water, and hopping across the rocks.  This is a great place to sit and enjoy your crepes while watching the kids play.

Fall 2016

Spring 2017

 Summer 2017

Fall 2017

Right in that same spot there's a little bridge that crosses over this river.  This vew is on the other side of the bridge and it's our absolute most favorite spot in the city.  We have to stop by and snap photos each time we're in town.

Fall 2017

Summer 2017

For brevity’s sake, I’m going to stop this post right here and pick up tomorrow right where I'm leaving off .  Tomorrow we’ll chat strictly about food and shopping…my most FAVORITE subjects!  

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