Iowa Hill Hydraulic Mining Site
Starting Elevation: 9600 FT
Highest Elevation: 9910FT ( Total Gain 310 Ft)
Trail Length: 1.2 miles, although there are interactive spurs throughout, we spent a little over an hour taking our time reading everything.
Trail Uses: Hiking ( I don’t think there were restrictions on how the trail is used but wouldn’t be much fun for bikers or horses)
Degree of Difficulty: Easy/ Moderate ( only because of altitude)
Pets: Dogs on leash only
When I was planning the activities for my sister’s visit, I knew we wanted to spend 2 nights in Breckenridge. Mary said she didn’t want to try hiking over 10,000 ft on this trip, well Breckenridge sits at a tidy 9600ft up so it was a good challenge to find something while in Breckenridge. We left White Ranch Park and drove straight up to Breckenridge where we planned on drinking, eating, hot tubbing, shopping and hopefully some exercise in no particular order. So on target with our plans we checked in and immediately grabbed margarita’s at Mi Casa, after a round (or 3 ) we thought we should walk around town and stretch a little, maybe shop. Unfortunately everything was closed but restaurants, which is typical during shoulder season( those season’s where there is not enough snow to ski but not warm enough for it to be all gone either). Plan B was to grab some pizza from our favorite place, Giampietro Pasta & Pizza, head back to our condo and hit the hot tub with drinks( duh, vacation!) It was in this relaxed state that we decided doing a nice easy trail the next day made the most sense, get it done early and we could shop, eat left over pizza then repeat our margarita happy hour to hot tub with drinks routine.
When we were getting ready after breakfast, my sister very smartly asked how we should dress and knowing a minimal amount of information about the Iowa Hill trail I very un-smartly replied, I think we are fine in what we have on. Which was danskos and jeans…. So fast forward to getting a shuttle to the trail head, a nice thing about Breckenridge is they run a free shuttles all over the place, including this particular trailhead. We actually also had a free shuttle with our condo so we took advantage of that one. The trail head is just on the north edge of town about 1500 feet north of the intersection of Airport and Valley Brook Roads. Follow the dirt road and you will see the trailhead immediately West ( to your left when facing North).
It was a really beautiful day to be on this trail, it was sunny mild and just a little snow on the ground. As we started up the trail, it took me all of 5 minutes to realize we should have worn real hiking shoes or gym shoes…Danskos are not meant for hiking uphill on snow in a sort of muddy sandy mix. But we were already there so we bravely went on. It is a great trail that tells all about the mining history of that particular mine/mountain in Breckenridge, it is really well-marked with main trail and interactive spurs:
At the interactive parts there are descriptions of what was used & how, as well as some period pieces that are out for you to see. I don’t know if they are the originals or not but it was cool to have them there.
It goes up one of the gulches they used their Hydraulic giants on to get the gold particles “sluiced” out. It was pretty cool, I have read it is one of the best mining museums around. At the top of one these gulches is an old boarding house for company men. I think they have future plans for enhancing this part of the trail but it was still cool to walk up on.
We took an insane amount of pictures…mostly of the birds flying overhead in hopes of catching an amazing shot but finely we had to move on and head back down. While our (mine) poor choice of footwear hadn’t yet been a real problem, this is where I really regretted my choice. Going down was interesting, as the path was narrow, snowy and slick but we stayed upbeat and happy, I mean seriously it was so beautiful around us it was no big deal we had to take our time.
We walked back to Main street and our condo instead of taking the shuttle, it was just over 2 miles and the day was too beautiful to take a bus back to town. Here are some more pictures that were my favorites:
This is a great hike for kids and/or if you have a little extra time to kill while on a summer or winter vacation. I know we enjoyed all it had to offer!
We really enjoyed the rest of our day and night in Breckenridge and my hiking plan worked out perfectly. On Saturday we headed back east to Evergreen and Three Sisters a hike I have already posted about but I knew from the first time I did it, this was the one to take Mary on. At the top, Mt. Evergreen has amazing views of Mt. Evans and the whole hike is everything I love about Colorado! She did amazing! Spending those 2 nights at 9600Ft was just what she needed to have no problems doing a hike that has a top elevation of 8500+ft. She kicked my butt on it not needing to stop once, which is no surprise but the nice thing is I finally brought her to the places I kept promising but couldn’t make it to myself!
For details of this hike, check out my earlier post on Three Sisters , but here were our victory shots on top:
Mary and Aaron are “uncomfortable” with heights but Aaron has had some time to work on it. Mary wasn’t too sure about throwing her hands up for our victory picture…. It was a little funny to have them both chiding me on where I was walking since I have no problem with heights.
I know have been long-winded already but I just have to share this last picture. We did the ghost history tour of the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park and I put my camera on the sun-dial so I could do a timed picture of us in front of the hotel…. The surprise was the reflection of the hotel in the dial. It was a perfect summation of our visit, just awesome!