Labor Day marks the end of summer and the beginning of fall in the Colorado high country. Luckily, there are plenty of Summit County activities to do as the season turns. Some would argue these activities are even more fun during the autumn months than in the summer. We’ll let you be the judge.

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Foliage by Foot

There are endless hiking trails in Summit County. You cannot miss the sight of the aspen trees in contrast with towering summits and the beautiful lakes.

1. Drive, ride, or walk: Boreas Pass

Boreas Pass - Fall Colors - OutThere Colorado
Boreas Pass, Colorado.

Head to the south of Breckenridge’s Main Street toward South Park, where Highway 9 and Boreas Pass road intersect. From 11,400 feet, enjoy brilliant views of town and the surrounding mountains covered in glowing aspens and fall foliage. You can travel by car, ATV, bike, or go for a short stroll.

2. Easy Hike: Rainbow Lake

Wander the Peaks Trail through wetlands surrounded by golden aspens and lodgepole pines until you reach the beautiful lake. This hike is 1.5 miles roundtrip.

3. Moderate Hike: Eaglesmere Lake

Trek through thick aspen groves with stunning views of surrounding peaks, Lower Cataract Lake, and Cataract Falls for this 7.2-mile roundtrip hike. Golden leaves and tall grasses all create a picturesque scene as you climb towards the peaceful Eaglesmere Lake.

4. Difficult Hike: Mount Royal

What this hike lacks in length it makes up for in elevation gain. In just over one mile, climb 1,250 feet to epic views of Lake Dillon and Frisco and the sprawling autumn landscape in Silverthorne, Dillon, and towards Copper Mountain. Mount Royal stands tall over Frisco’s Main Street, which means you also have point-and-brag rights while enjoying a rewarding hot cider or brew downtown afterwards.

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Climbing in Summit County

Locals will agree that end-of-summer into fall is the perfect time to climb in Summit County. The snow has finally melted from the spring’s storms, the heat has subsided, and there’s nothing more beautiful then ascending above golden aspens. Colder (but not too cold) temps mean better friction on the rock. And better friction means better climbs.

For a variety of climbs heads to Montezuma Road just past Keystone. Great for sport climbing and bouldering, the seven popular crags here are all accessible with ample parking and short approaches. Sport climbs range in difficulty from 5.6—5.14a and bouldering projects range from V0—V8, meaning climbers of all abilities can come together to enjoy a fall afternoon on the wall.

Biking in Summit County

Biking in Summit County in the fall means more comfortable temperatures for those big climbs and magical views from start to finish.

1. Road Biking: Breck to Copper

One of Summit’s greatest sources of pride is the beautifully maintained and extensive recreational paths. For a long round-trip 30-mile ride with 1,400’ of elevation gain, start in Breckenridge at the Breck Recreation Center and ride into Frisco along the west side of town. Ten Mile Creek & Path will take riders from Frisco to Copper along Ten-Mile Canyon, which is 14-miles round trip, with 900’ of climb. The path follows the old railroad track and offers incredible views of Dillon Reservoir, the Ten-Mile Range, and surrounding peaks coated in gold. Pack a picnic and take a breather two miles from Frisco along the path at the rest area. Keep your eye peeled for mountain goats on the canyon walls.

2. Mountain Biking in Summit County

  • Moderate Trail (Blue): Aspen Alley

We’ll let the name speak for itself. In the fall, the leave covered 1.3-mile single track provides views of Breckenridge Ski Resort through pines and Aspen groves. Start from the Boreas Pass trailhead and ride the fast and flowy track down. Catch the Summit Stage bus by the ice arena or climb back up to lap the trail.

  • Difficult Trail (Black Diamond): Little French Loop

The mostly single-track route is 12.6 miles long and starts from the B&B trailhead. Ride it clockwise for a smooth and well-paced ride. You will be traveling through old mining territory, so keep your eye open for remnants of Breckenridge’s rich history beneath fallen leaves. Locals advise downloading the MTB Project map of the Little French Loop, as the twists and turns can be confusing.

Fishing in Summit County

Summit not only has tons of places to fish, but the fish population is abundant and unique. Choose between the Blue and Snake river, and the Ten Mile Creek or head over to the reservoir. Lake Dillon is one of two places in the entire lower 48 with artic char. They love the cold deep water, so try fishing near the dam for your best shot at these rare beauties. The local waters also boast Kokanee salmon, rainbow trout, and brown trout (which spawn in October). Make sure you have a Colorado fishing license before heading out.

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Need a guide? Check out these local companies for wade excursions and float trips: Mountain Angler, Breckenridge OutfittersBig Ed’s Fishing Ventures, Cutthroat Anglers, Trouts Fly Fishing, Alpine Fishing Adventures, and the Colorado Angler.

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Float on a Boat

Kayaking - Lake Dillon - Summit County - Katie Rae Bode - OutThere Colorado
Kayaking on Lake Dillon. Photo Credit: Katie Rae Bode.

With the Colorado sun beating down and a few extra layers on, you can sneak in some extra days on Lake Dillon before the big freeze comes. Paddleboard, kayak, or have a relaxing day on a motorboat or sailboat. Rent boats from the Dillon Marina or Frisco Bay Marina. Note that the marinas have shorter hours in the shoulder seasons.

Fall Fare

Local food becomes sparser as the cold creeps in. Catch the last of the Breckenridge Sunday Market, September 10, and the Dillon Farmers Market, September 15.  Unlike the markets in the county, John’s Farm Stand is open every day from 10 a.m.—7 p.m. all the way through late October. Taste the freshest of the Colorado fall harvest and snag a pumpkin (or two) for jack-o-lanterns and pumpkin pie. There are two farm stands on Highway 9: one in Frisco at the marina entrance and one in Silverthorne .25 miles North of I-70.

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