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“Ruined by the crowds” 3 of 5 stars
Review of McCullough Gulch

McCullough Gulch
Breckenridge, CO
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Ranked #4 of 21 Attractions in Breckenridge
Type: Trails, Outdoors
Attraction details
Pueblo, Colorado
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
“Ruined by the crowds”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed December 18, 2014 NEW

Second time hiking this trail, both in summer. The waterfall and alpine lake at the end are spectacular, and there are numerous wildflower glades along the way. Though there has been significant trail improvement since 2012, it is still treacherous across the boulder fields (manmade trail "fills"). Factoring in the steepness, I would describe the difficulty as moderate plus.

This last time (Sunday morning in August), there were close to two hundred people on the trail, which completely robbed the hike of any enjoyment... much of the trail is wide enough for only a single person, and many families were holding toddlers by the hand on these parts, all of which added 90 minutes or more to the hike time. And they were all yakking constantly!

Visited August 2014
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82 reviews from our community

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English first
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Top Contributor
723 reviews 723 reviews
372 attraction reviews
Reviews in 117 cities Reviews in 117 cities
367 helpful votes 367 helpful votes
“Interesting hike right by Quandary Peak”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 25, 2014

The three main attractions on the McCullough Gulch Trail are two waterfalls, one of them (White Falls) truly spectacular in most years, and Upper Blue Reservoir at the far end of the hike.

Access to the trailhead for a hike up McCullough Gulch is had by finding the standard trailhead for climbing Quandary Peak, driving on past it on the road that will be easily passenger car passable until the last few hundred feet, bearing left at the one place you have to make a decision, and parking when you can see the gate at the road closure. (And be sure to park so that others can get by, on the uphill side of the road. To get out most easily, you will want to turn your vehicle around, which can be done fairly easily if you are careful.)

Right at the gate you will hear some roaring that is coming from a waterfall off the right side of the gate (though the main trail heads uphill off the left side), and it's worth a short side trip to see it. (This will involve getting across a concrete diversion trough, but that's easy if it's dry and you'll see what you need to do.)

After some hiking up the "trail" (really, an old jeep road), you will pass an area on your left that looks a bit like a junkyard with some buildings and a cheery sign warning that trespassers will be shot on sight. That doesn't apply to the trail, which is on forest service property, but I'd suggest not wandering over for a close look at the compound.

Assuming that it hasn't been so dry that White Falls is puny (and in some years that has been the case, though not in 2014), you will hear these falls before you get to them, and there will be some well established, official side trails to get there. Be sure to take one of them, since you won't want to miss one of the more spectacular waterfalls in this part of the Rockies.

At the very top you get to Upper Blue Reservoir, where the trail may or may not end for you depending on how adventurous you are in trailfinding to get around this small body of water. If you watch carefully, you should see some good sized fish swimming around.

And watch the skies. As with any excursion into the high Rockies, afternoon (and occasionally, morning) thunderstorms and their loads of lightning can be dangerous.

Visited July 2014
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San Antonio, Texas
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
6 attraction reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
“Not all that easy, but quite pretty and easy to navigate”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 7, 2014

I felt like I was Lewis or Clark. Followed beautiful cascading mountain stream. Well-marked and well-travelled trail, so don't worry about getting lost. This is not easy for the recreational hiker, but doable. Easy for the experienced hiker. Wear good hiking boots with grippy soles.

Visited June 2014
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Tinton Falls, New Jersey
Contributor
15 reviews 15 reviews
4 attraction reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
“Last hike”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed October 7, 2014

I certainly would not say that this a easy to moderate hike. This being said, we are 70 and our home is at sea level. The dirt road from the parking area to the trailhead is long and steep. The trail is very beautiful but continues climbing over some tricky areas. We made it the water falls, but decided not to go on to lake because the trail became steep and rocky.

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Colorado
Top Contributor
119 reviews 119 reviews
61 attraction reviews
Reviews in 34 cities Reviews in 34 cities
113 helpful votes 113 helpful votes
“Popular and Sometimes Crowded”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 1, 2014

McCullough Gulch is one of the most recommended and well traveled hikes around Breckenridge. It is rated "Easy to Moderate" by the Forest Service but, in combination with the elevation, it will be more difficult than most people anticipate. Having said that, I would not discourage anyone who is moderately fit from attempt the hike because the lake and waterfalls are absolutely beautiful. Please respect the private property and mining operation that you will encounter along the way and leave only foot prints when you depart.

Visited October 2014
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