Minnie Mine Loop trail is a shorter, pretty easy hike near Breckenridge, Colorado. It’s great for a casual summer hike, and in the fall it lights up with aspens of all different colors. You’ll also see a handful of historic mine equipment and ruins, making it a fun little history lesson. Nearby is what’s left of the Gold Reiling Dredge, an old gold mining dredge that sank in that location in 1922. This is worth a little side trip and is super close to the parking area for Minnie Mine Loop.
When driving into Breckenridge on Highway 9 heading south, you’ll continue on Main Street and take a left heading east on Wellington Road. Continue on Wellington Road, which turns into French Gulch Road, for almost exactly three miles, and you’ll see a parking area on the left. This parking lot only holds about 6 cars, so avoid holiday weekends and busy times. We typically don’t have any trouble finding parking when we go during off times. The trailhead leaves through the wooden fence posts on the northwest side of the parking lot.
View from Minnie Mine Loop trail looking towards Breckenridge.
Initially the hike begins with a moderate ascent, which is why I would consider this hike to be pretty easy, but it’s not completely flat. There’s minimal elevation gain and it’s a short distance. We feel like most people will be able to complete this portion and we’ve heard of young kids being able to do it themselves too. Most people follow the signs for Minnie Mine Loop which can lead you back down to the road before you make it all the way back to the parking area. Instead, follow signs for X10U8 (pronounced Extenuate).
See the sign post on the left? Continue past this for the viewpoint then take the fork downhill on your way back.
To break it down, leave from the parking area and follow signs for Minnie Mine until you get to the area pictured above. Continue past this sign for about 75 yards to an amazing viewpoint that most people miss out on (the main photo of this article). Retrace your steps back to this point, and take a right at the fork, going downhill. You’ll reach another fork where you should continue on the left-most trail on X10U8. If you continue to follow signs for Minnie Mine past this point, you’ll end up walking back on the road and it’s no fun! Taking X10U8 at this point will spit you out near the bottom of Minnie Mine Loop pretty close to the parking area. If you’re using All Trails, use this posting to follow for your route.
Building ruins from the gold mining boom in Breckenridge.
Reiling Dredge Detour
While you’re parked at this trailhead, it’s worth the short detour to see a piece of historic mining equipment. It’s only about 100 yards away on a completely flat trail. From the parking area, cross the street and you’ll see a trailhead there. Continue on that trail, over the bridge, and through the rock piles. It takes you directly to the dredge and some information signs about it. It sank in this very pond in 1922, and tells tales of Breckenridge’s former mining history. Originally built in 1908, the Reiling Dredge served French Gulch Dredging Company and devastated the river landscape in this valley by pulling tons of rock from the riverbed in search of gold. For a more in-depth history lesson, check out this article from the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance about the dredge and its history.
View from French Gulch Road looking towards the trail for Minnie Mine Loop (in the trees up and to the right).
Minnie Mine Loop trail is one of our favorite hikes to take visitors on since it’s short and easy while still offering great views. Fall is an especially good time of year, since there’s tons of aspen groves coating this entire valley. Boreas Pass Road is another great place for fall colors and hiking so check that out too!
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.