My Commute Is Cooler Than Yours, Part 1: Flumes Trails

Tom's Baby trail near Breckenridge, Colorado

From the Flumes trails, I connect to Tom’s Baby for the mountain bike commute home from Breckenridge, Colorado.


Route: Loop on Lower Flume, Middle Flume and Upper Flume
Flumes trailhead on County Road 450, near the Breckenridge Recycling Center
Flumes Trail Season: Summer and fall (running, mountain biking), provided there’s not an excess of moisture*; some areas popular with cross country skiers in winter

*Please be sensitive to muddy and/or wet trails. In the words of the Summit Fat Tire Society, know when to ride, walk or turn around. Check out one of many fab articles on trail responsibility:


Several days each week I make the Dillon to Breckenridge commute by a mix of bike and bus; of those days, my favorites are those on trails. The mountain bike route home involves about 90 to 95 percent dirt, a mix of four-wheel drive roads and sweet singletrack that meanders through the valley just north of Keystone.

When I recently volunteered for the Breckenridge 100, I met a few guys who’d driven thousands of miles, from the heart of Mexico, to compete on Summit County’s network of trails. We’re fortunate enough to ride these trails all summer long and I love it.

In this series detailing the trails of my commute home, I’ll cover some popular routes that make great little after-work loops on their own; connected, they expose a vast network of trails that extends far beyond Summit County.

Flumes Trails Near Breckenridge, Colorado

I’ve seen some reviews online that trash the Flumes Trails because of the proximity to homes and civilization. Yep, on the Flumes Trails riders will cross residential streets, pass numerous huge homes and stay pretty darned close to town

The positive side to this parade of homes? Locals can ride from their backyards and visitors can hit the trails from town. Beginners will discover easily-accessed terrain and advanced riders can use the Flumes Trails to access longer, more technical routes.

I’m a huge fan of escaping to warmer climates for spring bike rides and traveling to explore new singletrack. But with Summit County’s magnificent trail system (that includes trails such as Flumes), you DON’T NEED TO DRIVE in order to ride your mountain bike – that’s a foreign concept for most. And unfortunately, it’s a foreign concept even to some who live here.

The other cool thing about the Flumes Trails – and we talk about this all the time at work – is that they were the original flumes used by miners in Breck’s early days of gold-diggin’. Very neat, especially for a nerd like me.

Lower Flume

Access the Lower Flume Trail just east of the 7-11, near the Recycling Center, on County Road 451. If driving is necessary, park at the Breckenridge Recreation Center and ride across Colorado State Highway 9 to the Flumes trailhead.

Once on the trail, continue straight (rather than up the switchback) to remain on Lower Flume. As these are all Town of Breckenridge trails, forks are clearly and consistently marked. Riders and runners will cross pavement several times; look around and slow down to spot where the trails continue from the road.

Lower Flume is pretty non-technical, but as a beginning mountain biker, my handling skills still can’t keep up with my lungs on this flat section. The flumes trails were always a favorite when I did a lot (well, a lot for me) of running — Lower Flume feels flat compared to my neighborhood Straight Creek trail.

Mike’s Trail and Middle Flume

For a short loop to Upper Flume, hang a right on Mike’s Trail, a quick climb that makes the flumes loop even shorter. Provided you’re not racing sunset sans lights, continue straight onto Middle Flume, where a mellow climb begins. Continue past Tom’s Baby, a fun connector trail that leads to several ride options.

At the intersection, riders seeking a longer route can explore Gold Run-area trails, but veer right to remain on the Flumes loop.

Upper Flume

Throughout much of the Flumes trails, riders will notice wood bridges, rock slabs and other man-made trail work, all efforts to keep the Flumes trails sustainable and dry. But with abundant rain and snow, some sections may remain unrideable for most or all of summer. Even in wet years, Upper Flume dries out dramatically as it descends into the neighborhoods and back to the trailhead.

My Commute is Cooler Than Yours

For my sweet commute, I veer off the Flumes trails at Tom’s Baby and head toward Discovery Ridge and the Colorado Trail. It’s pretty outstanding. And this year, it’s absolutely full of wildflowers.

I’m sure, though, there’s someone, somewhere, who dons a bikini and captains an SUP to get to work. Wherever you are, I’d like to meet you. Because there’s a good chance I’d be super-jazzed to live where you do.