Great Hikes: McCullough Gulch is a Glorious Fall Hike in Breckenridge

We love all the seasons here in Summit County, but fall might just be our favorite. When the air starts to get a little crisp and cooler weather begins to set in, you simply have to take in all the incredible fall colors. The leaves have held on this year and there is still a little color to be seen, but prime viewing usually happens from mid-September through early October.

We also can have snow in September and October, making some of our fall days feel like winter! But usually after a few days the weather turns warmer again and it truly feels like autumn. (Wear layers, though! Nights and mornings can be really cold!) Bluebird skies make for perfect hiking conditions. And there are so, so many hikes to choose from.

One of the best hikes for enjoying the changing leaves near Summit County is McCullough Gulch just south of Breckenridge. This incredible hike features stunning views of Quandary Peak, and it features a lake and a waterfall. Remember your layers since it can be windy near the lake. Don't forget to pack snacks and plenty of water.

The hike is uphill, but not too steep, and it has plenty of places where you can stop and rest. Of course, your return will be downhill and it's always nice to have the finishing leg of the hike be a little easier. 

Wildlife is commonly spotted, so be sure to bring a camera in case you glimpse a mountain goat, and of course you'll want it along anyway so you can take plenty of photos of the fall foliage. 

If you capture a magical moment on your hike, we have plenty of frames--like this one made in Colorado from beetle kill wood.

If you capture a magical moment on your hike, we have plenty of frames--like this one made in Colorado from beetle kill wood.

There are plenty of great trails in Frisco and Silverthorne as well as Breckenridge. On a glorious fall day, you really can't go wrong in Summit County. Happy hiking! 

 

Five Creative Winter Date Ideas in Summit County, Colorado

Snowy weather offers the perfect excuse to cuddle up with a special someone in front of a fire, enjoying a seasonal movie and a cup of hot cocoa or glass of wine. 

But winter is also when Summit County comes out to play. If you're a couple who prefers to pursue adventure, there are tons of fun winter activities to do together in Frisco, Breckenridge, Keystone and the rest of Summit County. Check out these ideas for some creative wintertime dates.

Super cool fire art in Breckenridge

Super cool fire art in Breckenridge

1. Cuddle Up for a Sleigh Ride

From mid-November through mid-April, Frisco-based Two Below Zero offers dinner sleigh rides. The 2 1/4-hour event features a scenic sleigh ride, a three-course, home-cooked meal, and live entertainment. The sleigh company even offers vegetarian and gluten-free options with advance notice, and wine and beer is available for purchase.

If you're not in the mood for dinner, you can also enjoy a scenic ride with hot cocoa (spiked with Peppermint Schnapps for adults). And for a special fee, schedule a private, 45-minute sleigh ride that seats up to four -- maybe a romantic double date is in your future?

2. Enjoy a Winter Stroll on Frisco Main Street

Whether it's a sunshiny day or a frosty winter night, Frisco's Main Street has a small-mountain-town charm that's hard to beat. We leave our holiday lights up for months, because it usually remains a winter wonderland throughout much of April.

Frisco also hosts events throughout the year, like Wassail Days, when businesses all over town  serve up hot spiced cider, known as wassail, for 10 days each December. Each business has its own secret recipe, and visitors are encouraged to try at least 12 to earn a commemorative mug.

Along with the wassail, you'll enjoy events like a tree-lighting ceremony on historic Main Street, soup tasting and ugly sweater contests. And, of course, walking between the shops, restaurants and galleries that offer wassail is the perfect time to get in some hand-holding.

3. Explore Together While Cross-Country Skiing

With four Nordic centers in Summit County, there are miles upon miles of cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trails. Unlike snowboarding and downhill skiing, these two slower sports offer plenty of opportunities to pause and take in the gorgeous scenery of winter -- preferably together and in a secluded location.

Pack a thermos of hot cocoa and enjoy a chilly outdoor adventure at the resort of your choice. When you've had enough of the winter air and solitude, head to a nearby restaurant at one of the resort centers or nearby Frisco or Breckenridge to warm up.

4. Take in Breathtaking Works of Fire and Ice

Downtown Breckenridge is another charming mountain locale, just a short 15-minute drive from Frisco. A block from Main Street, the Breckenridge Arts District is exploding with events, workshops and performances, providing an ongoing schedule of activities that could make for an excellent date. 

Every year in late January and early February, the International Snow Sculpture Championships are held in Breckenridge. Artists' incredible creations grow out of the snow to create a surreal, fascinating outdoor gallery. In recent years, the competition has coincided with Breck Create's Fire Arts Festival, a four-day exhibition by fire-themed performers, artists and sculptors, musicians and artisans. 

5. Celebrate With Your Valentine Under the Moonlight

After a fun day of activities, it's time to relax and enjoy a delicious meal at one of Summit County's many restaurants. If you happen to be in town for Valentine's Day, be sure to make dinner reservations in advance. Many places have special menus just for Valentine's. At Copper Mountain's Solitude Station you'll find a romantic selection of fine wines and cheeses, caprese, a delicious buffet dinner and miniature desserts. Dinner is served with one alcoholic drink or hot cider and live music. Then, ski back down the mountain to enjoy an evening in the village.

The natural beauty, snow-capped peaks and historic buildings make Summit County, Colorado a romantic setting for couples to take a break from the hectic pace of life and have fun together. These are just a few ideas for romantic winter dates--the possibilities are pretty much endless!