Black Powder Pass is a hike located just outside of Breckenridge, Colorado, that takes you up to the saddle between Boreas Mountain and Bald Mountain. The hike begins at around 11,500 feet, so you’ll gain about 1,000 feet in elevation over the course of the 1.7 mile trek to the saddle, which is just under 12,500 feet in elevation. Because the trailhead begins at such a high altitude, you get views from beginning to end, making this one of the most easily accessible hikes in the area for views like these. At only 3.4 miles roundtrip, this trail is well worth the effort to make it to the summit so you can see the views in all directions.
The trailhead is located just off Boreas Pass Road, which is a popular scenic drive in the Breckenridge area in the summer and fall. Due to limited parking at the top of Boreas Pass, we recommend starting early. There’s also always the threat of afternoon thunderstorms and because this hike is entirely above tree line, it should only be attempted on clear days, preferably in the morning when the risk of lightning is lower.
Wildflowers looking up towards Black Powder Pass
In Breckenridge, there’s an intersection between Main Street and Boreas Pass Road on the south end of Main Street. You’ll take a turn from Main Street heading east onto Boreas Pass Road. This road winds and twists its way through a large residential area, before eventually becoming unpaved. Continue on the unpaved portion for a little over 6 miles until you get to the summit of Boreas Pass, and area marked by parking on both sides and a large sign noting the elevation, “Continental Divide” and name of the pass. There’s also some old buildings there, including an old railroad house that now serves as a hut for winter cross country skiers. The trailhead is near those buildings on the east side of the parking area. Look for a sign that says “Black Powder Pass” and follow the trail.
Wildflowers + mountain views = awesome.
The first 0.8 miles of the hike is relatively flat, and is the easiest portion of the hike. There’s lots of views looking west towards the 10 Mile Mountain Range and some of the best hiking in Breckenridge, including Quandary Peak, the Decalibron Loop, Continental Falls, McCullough Gulch and Blue Lakes. In peak summer wildflowers (typically around mid- to late- July), this area is abundant in Indian Paintbrushes and Rocky Mountain Aster. Once you start to near the 1 mile mark, the trail crosses a small stream, whose water feeds a huge patch of all kinds of wildflowers.
The trail then curves to the right, and you start the ascent to Black Powder Pass. This is the most difficult portion of the hike, but it’s well worth continuing to see the view looking over the other side of the saddle. You’ll walk alongside a small stream with lots of surrounding wildflowers. Don’t forget to look behind you, as the view to the west keeps getting better and better as you climb.
You’ll know when you’re at the summit, and this is the perfect place to sit and recover before heading back down. Soak in the views and drink some water. This trail is out-and-back, so retrace your same steps back to the trailhead.
View looking over the other side of Black Powder Pass.
Even after all the wildflower hikes we’ve done the past few years, Black Powder Pass remains one of our favorites. You can’t beat the views and the flowers, plus the easy accessibility from town. We highly recommend this hike for visitors and locals alike, and we’re sure you’ll enjoy what this trail has to offer.
About the Author
Ashley is an adventurous soul who loves all things nature, especially warm sunshine, hiking, wildflowers, and mushrooms. If she isn’t writing content for Know Nothing Nomads, she’s probably in a forest looking at big mountain views and tiny pieces of moss on the side of the trail.