Pacific Tarn Trail

HARD 7 reviews
#88 of 194 trails in

Pacific Tarn Trail is a 6.5 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Breckenridge, Colorado that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is best used from March until November. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

6.5 miles
2,362 feet

dog friendly



nature trips



wild flowers


4 months ago

Great trail. It takes about 2 miles to get to the start of the actual trail because during winter u can only park in the Quandary lot! Definitely need snow shoes still and didn’t see a single person in 6 hours. Trail is well marked and I can’t wait to go back when the snow melts. Be prepared for this hike as it is definitely remote, no signal and steep

11 months ago

Well, I thought I was hiking to the Pacific tarn based off the description but we didn't actually reach it. I'd love to know where I hiked to from the McCullough gulch trail, cause I was completely bummed to find out we didn't make it to Pacific tarn... I think it could be 6.7 miles one way.

Monday, July 03, 2017

Hiked 7-2-17

Trail was well marked until close to the first lake, and lived up to the "hard" rating. It is a steady and strenuous climb from the McCullough Gulch Trailhead to the Lake, covering only 2 miles but a 1200' elevation gain. As a special bonus we were greeted by that most singular of Colorado experiences, and were snowed on in July at McCullough lake.

We attempted to continue up to Pacific Tarn but the trail was impassable due to significant snow still on the ground in the area around the lake. We will return in late summer to attempt again, but the remaining climb is definitely not for unprepared day-trippers - come prepared for a serious climb with the remainder of the 2500' elevation gain still to go after the lake, and all of it above tree line and well exposed. We had to wait out a thunderstorm before we started up, and the second storm brought snow. We beat the third storm wave off the hill, but it would have hit us square on at the tarn had we been able to continue. Be prepared and weather aware!

We encountered MANY hikers on the lower trail, but most turned back before the final push to the lake (it is a rough and rocky scramble and not well marked). The trail was in good shape with some trash around, but not nearly as much as other trails we've hiked, and people were very friendly and helpful. Lots and lots of dogs on the trail as well so be aware if that's an issue for you.

Trailhead navigation in google maps is spot on, and the parking was as expected (full, but not impossible to find a spot). Do not park in the Quandary Peak lot, it adds almost 2-miles to your hike (unless you want that) and isn't necessary as there is parking further up the road.

McCullough Lake was worth the hike alone, so if you try in the near future the view is worth it, even if you cannot continue up.

9 months ago

11 months ago

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Friday, September 16, 2016