My friend Melissa and I have a fall foliage tradition. For several years now, we’ve gone leaf peeping in and around Breckenridge, Colorado, on or close to September 18th. Fall colors usually peak in Breckenridge around that date. This year the leaves peaked earlier than normal because of the hot and dry conditions. While they are falling fast, we still found a plethora of autumnal hues. With Melissa’s dog Beau with us, our first stop was Aspen Alley, which is barely two minutes from downtown Breckenridge. It’s next to the Wakefield Ranch at the base of Boreas Pass Road. The ranch is private, but the hiking and biking trails are super stellar when lined with golden aspens.
Then we headed up Boreas Pass, which is a golden gold mine when the aspens peak. This year, with fall foliage peaking early, we missed it. But, it was still beautiful and offers great views of Breckenridge Ski Resort, town of Breckenridge, Blue Lake, and mining relics. Since both of us have done the pass numerous times, we turned around and decided to go leaf peeping elsewhere.
It was lunchtime and our tummies were grumbling so we enjoyed a nice lunch on the patio at The Canteen on Main Street in downtown Breckenridge. Needing to work off lunch we headed up to the B&B Trailhead off of French Gulch Road to see colors and explore a couple of Breckenridge’s old mines. We hiked up to the Truax Mine. There isn’t much known about this mine. When you get up close to it, you’re standing next to one of the two adits, or entrances to the mine. The pile of rocks was basically a waste dump where miners discarded non-metal-bearing rock. The log structure would have been where they stored ore prior to shipment. When the Truax Mine was in full swing there was a blacksmith shop, ore bins, and at least three cabins.
Before leaving, we enjoyed the view of the Extenuate Mine surrounded by beautiful autumnal hues and mining talons. Thousands of tons of ore came out of the Extenuate Mine with a network of underground tunnels sprawling thousands of feet. The tall structure would have been where the miners separated metal-bearing ore from regular rock. The Extenuate Mine was one of the first local mines to use electricity extensively. At the height of the mine, it had an electric tram that connected it to two other mines in French Gulch. At its peak, more than 40 tons of rock was mined daily. It was active from the 1880s to 1970s.
We dropped Beau off and grabbed Sugar for our last short hike. We drove north on Highway 9 to Frisco to hike to Rainbow Lake. It’s a short hike through a wonderful aspen grove and lodgepole pines. This short and easy hike is great for families since it’s only about 0,75 miles each way. Once we got to the lake, we just sat and enjoyed watching the clouds and fall colors reflect in the lake as Sugar attempted to be a water dog and go after a stick a couple of times. This small beaver pond lake is peaceful, relaxing, and a perfect last short hike on our leaf peeping adventure. As we were hiking back to our cars, with so many golden aspens that had already fallen, I comment that we were taking the golden trail home.
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