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McCullough Gulch Trail is a 6.2 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Breckenridge, Colorado that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from April until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

Length 6.2 mi Elevation gain 1,578 ft Route type Out & Back

Dog friendly

Hiking

Nature trips

Skiing

Snowshoeing

Forest

Lake

River

Views

Waterfall

Wild flowers

Wildlife

Bugs

Over grown

Rocky

Scramble

Snow

Description
Waypoints (0)
Getting There

As of May 16 2020, users have reported that you have to park 1.7 miles from the trailhead and there is still a lot of snow. Please consult the park's website before visiting. There are several lakes that can be viewed along this trail. The official route goes to the second lake. Several waterfalls can be viewed about 1.5 miles into this route.

Please note that the location of the trailhead has moved in recent months due to road closures: From Breckenridge head south on route 9 for 7.6 miles to Blue Lakes Drive (#850). Turn right onto Blue Lakes drive and continue for about 100 yards to McCullough Gulch Rd.(#851). Turn right and continue for just under two, where the trailhead will be found at the Y-junction.

Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (1410)
Photos (1063)
Recordings (920)
Completed (2614)
Mike Mathieson
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSat Jul 11 2020
Great!

My favorite Colorado hike so far. Difficult enough so you feel like you've accomplished something, but never felt in any danger. Great views at waterfall and first lake. Second lake was a nice payoff for having made it to the end.

Chris Hogan
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarFri Jul 10 2020
HikingSnow

What a trail! Was surprised how busy it was at first but now I see why. The waterfalls are amazing. Favorite Breckenridge trail so far.

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Jamie W Brown
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarFri Jul 10 2020
HikingBugsOff trail
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Rhonda Ferrero Patten
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarFri Jul 10 2020
HikingMuddyRocky

We hiked this on July 6. Not busy early in the day but later tons of people on the lower parts of the trail - lots of dogs. It is a fairly steep incline and a lot of rocks and boulders - which created footing issues on the decent. Very nice views, incredible alpine lake worth the effort. Bring bug spray! A lot of snow patch made it difficult to find the upper lake trail. We arrived at around 8:30 am. Drove past the Quandry trailhead and all of those cars and parked at the MCCullough Gulch trailhead. The road is pretty potholed and treacherous at times. We found a spot easily although when we finished around 12 there were cars everywhere. There are a lot of people who start this late and appear ill prepared (no water etc). A lot of families. The start of the trail is basically a road up to the trailhead - there’s no parking along that stretch of the road so expect 1/2 mile or so on a dirt road before the actual trailhead. Great scenic trail!

Randy Boelkes
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarWed Jul 08 2020
Hiking

Beautiful hike, close to town, short walk to access some beautiful high country lakes and waterfall. Unfortunately, all that beauty and convenience translates into a lot of people on trail even midweek. We arrived in early afternoon, which made parking easy and most of the crowd was leaving or on the way down the trail. We passed a lot of folks coming down on our way up, but it was relatively uncrossed at the top. An afternoon departure in good weather days may be the way to go.

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Bailey Shiller
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarWed Jul 08 2020
Hiking

Awesome hike!! Don’t park immediately off of the main road, I read another review that if you drive 1.4 mi up the road you get better parking and he was right! Poorly marked trail but amazing views! Very buggy by the lake after the waterfall but worth it!

William Morris
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarTue Jul 07 2020
Hiking

Busy trail with multiple beautiful vistas. Right up until immediately before the first lake the trail is pretty and only moderately difficult at most. From the first lake on the trail is fairly technical with rocks and several water crossings. Wear waterproof boots. The trail can be difficult to follow as signage is sparse and in places absent. We liked the number of hikers as they helped us find our way and in turn we helped others. If signage were better to the top we’d give it five stars. Definitely worth the hike. The trail is absolutely gorgeous with falls, wildflowers, snow packs (which can hide the trail in spots), and lakes. Lots of friendly dogs on the trail as well.

View William's Recording
Cammie Ives
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarTue Jul 07 2020
HikingBugsMuddy

Hiked Tuesday 7/7. The trail itself is gorgeous and deserves five stars. My hike today was more like a two or three star experience. An early call prevented me from getting to the trailhead early, so I started at 10 am. Knowing what I know now, I should have waited for a different day when I could start earlier. First, the approach to the trailhead was littered with dozens of dog poop bags. Most of them had clearly been there for days. Next, there were So. Many. People. Including large groups of 10...15...20! I expected to see tour buses lining the road when I finished. All of us trying to get around one another made for a slow, frustrating morning. The volume of foot traffic also really exacerbated some muddy conditions. I will do this one again — but midweek in the fall, with a much earlier start.

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Lorie Hartley
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarTue Jul 07 2020
Hiking

This trail was gorgeous, but the amount of people there on a Tuesday was overwhelming & I must say that I felt sympathy for this area. People were walking all over the place causing erosion, stepping on flowers & completely tearing up the surrounding ground. I watched kids toss trash & adults bag their dog crap & throw it to the side. With all this careless & increased foot traffic the backcountry is taking a beating & we need to wake up to our actions. I’m sure this isn’t the review most wanted, but it has to be said. LEAVE NO TRACE PRACTICES ARE A MUST. We have to stop being so destructive. Anyways beautiful trail, steady incline, some points you have to climb.

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Megan Groninger
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun Jul 05 2020
HikingMuddyRockySnow

We loved this trail. We got there around 11:00 July 1st and had to walk about 0.5 miles to the trail head. We have a 10 yr old, 7 yr old, and a 2 yr old that was carried in a carrier all the way to the lower lake. My husband went through snow just before the lower lake and we decided not to go to the upper lake after seeing how the trail conditions changed. We stopped at the waterfall and had lunch and let the kids/adults rest. We are new at hiking and have been excited to do this trail. We took our sweet time and soaked it all in. We all were very proud and it felt amazing when we made it back to our car. It took us 5 hours to get to the lower lake and back. I also noticed the trail was changed to hard after we came back home to Indiana. Love Breckenridge and hope to come back for more!

Kendra Biggi
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSat Jul 04 2020
BugsGreat!Rocky

Hiked this Friday, 7/3, with my husband and 8 kids/young adults ranging in age from 14 to 22. Definitely follow the other reviewers directions to park up the mountain at the McCullough Gulch Trailhead. Drive approx 1.5 miles up the gravel road past the Quandary Peak Trailhead unless you want a really long walk uphill. Dont get fooled by all the cars on the side of the road headed to Quandary. We drove up in 2 minivans and the cars did fine even though it it was rocky, bumpy, and a bit sketchy at times. Just take your time and drive slowly. We also got to the trailhead at 8:30 am and there were probably a dozen cars there, but it was packed when we left. There are open areas on the trail without tree cover and it was warm. We all hiked in shorts, tshirts, and trail tennis shoes and we were comfortable. There are roots, rocks, and a few logs to cross across streams on the trail. We saw many people much more overdressed than us headed up when we were headed back down, and I have no idea how they did it without overheating. We we went to the first big lake after the waterfall, spent a decent amount of time there taking photos, and we were up and back in about 3 hours.

Nadia Stimack
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSat Jul 04 2020
HikingMuddyOff trailRockyScrambleSnow

Wow!! This hike was AMAZING!! By far one of the best hikes I’ve ever done. It’s a popular trail, so get there early. We arrived at the parking area about 7:30 on the 4th of July and surprisingly, there weren’t too many cars. There were a ton of cars when we got back. Round trip to the top lake and back took us 5 hours with a pretty steady pace and 2 dogs. The most challenging part was the rock climbing to get up to the second lake. You’re boulder scrambling in some places, but the views are 100% worth it. This trail has everything you’d want on a hike. We had to trek through some snow here and there, but it wasn’t too bad. A trail map helps because we got off the trail about a half a mile and had to scramble up the hill to get back to it. It’s fairly muddy, but you can step around most of the patches. Rivers, lakes, waterfalls, incredible mountain view’s, this one has it all!

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Laura Podewils
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarFri Jul 03 2020
Hiking

Wonderful trail! This essentially is McCullough Gulch trail plus a little extra. The parking always looks like there are hundreds of people but most don’t continue past the first waterfall. Absolutely gorgeous wildflowers. Bluebird day!

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Christopher Cooper
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarThu Jul 02 2020
Hiking

It’s not hard!! My 9lb min pin made it to the upper lake!! Follow the stacked rocks! Obviously people below me have no experience!

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Kevin Stroud
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarWed Jul 01 2020
Hiking

I give this trail 5 stars for when it’s not super crowded. If you go at a peak time, the lot is packed and you have to walk quite a distance to even get to the trail head. Go on a weekday early in the morning. The waterfall, the views, the terrain... all great. Moderate hike, great for families as well.

Alison Rose
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarWed Jul 01 2020
Hiking

Had a fantastic time on this moderate hike with gorgeous views. Definitely drive all the way back to park - so many folks were road walking from the Quandary Peak parking for no reason (we were in a Mazda 6 and did just fine going slow). Started around 9:30-10 am and it there were a few folks starting at the same time, but we mostly spaced out and had the trail to ourselves going up. Small patch of snow still near the first lake, but easy to avoid. Climbed up in altitude for views near there instead of going down to the second lake (could see it from above). Definitely windy/cold and needed a long sleeve up on the hill where it was exposed. The rest of the trail I was glad to have short sleeves for as the incline will heat you up. Lots of terrain diversity made this fun. Carry plenty of water. Took ~3 hours.

Alex Delgado
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarTue Jun 30 2020
Hiking

Very good trail. Impressive scenery views throughout the walk. One of the best trails in CO. Only bad thing is the further you get into the trail the harder it is to see trail marks, so you can get lost if you don’t know where you are going. Would recommend downloading the map beforehand.

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Morgan Stout
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarTue Jun 30 2020
HikingScrambleSnow

We completed the whole trail today up to the second lake! Be warned/prepared that this trail is definitely more difficult than moderate. Started at 7:30am and back at the car at 12:45pm. 7.75 miles clocked round trip. About 1400ft elevation gain. If you don’t have much experience with locating a trail that isn’t very well marked, make sure you stay aware and download the trail map if you plan to go beyond the first lake. The trail markers become less clear (a few discreet cairns along the way but nothing else) and the snow packs are still present, although completely doable without traction. Had we not downloaded the trail map prior, I do not think we would have opted to continue past the first lake. We referenced it frequently. That aside, this was easily my favorite hike I have ever done in Colorado. Simply gorgeous, fun, challenging, and quiet if you get yourself up early enough ;)

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