Route: Straight Creek trail from Dillon Valley toward the Eisenhower and Johnson tunnels
Start/End: Out and back via trailhead accessed from Forest Rd. 51 and multiple neighborhood trails around Dillon Valley
My personal athletic accomplishments have always been a result of stubbornness rather than physical prowess. Though close family may argue otherwise, I claim this trait as an asset, one that has allowed me to push my body beyond what I thought possible for me. And so I became one of those people who felt that my heart rate needed to be up for a minimum of 60 minutes, saddle time at least two hours. And swims? Anything under 45 minutes was just a waste of my time.
I have changed. I’ve certainly not picked up speed; rather, these days I’m much more interested in exploring my Summit County backyard and staying fit so I can continue doing the things I enjoy. I’m happy to get 15 minutes from the house to let the dog walk in the creek. Jumping on my bike for a coffee run is a great way to spend a summer evening. Last week, I played hooky to go for a 20-minute run on a quiet, snowy morning. And finally, here’s where we get to the part you were probably seeking to begin with: the trail overview.
Accessible in any season, the Straight Creek trail parallels I-70 eastbound toward the Eisenhower Tunnel. Previously a four-wheel-drive road, it’s been widened into a dirt road because of logging over the last two years.
Dillon Valley residents can access it from a variety of neighborhood trails, the easiest for me at the east end of Straight Creek Drive. I can run this trail in any season, and I love it.
The folks who live in Breckenridge have an amazing trail system in town. This doesn’t really compare, but anyone who says it stinks takes Summit County for granted. Yes, it’s a dirt road. Yes, it parallels I-70 and with that comes the sound of wheezing trucks. And yes, it’s in Dillon Valley, which is bad-mouthed by more than a few. But … I can run on dirt from my house. I can watch the sun set behind Buffalo Peak. And after jogging on a trail that does nothing but climb, rollers seem easy.
Winter: Cross country skiing is possible during good snow years and after heavy snowfall. Because of the logging, the road now sees a lot of sun and thus, rapid snowmelt. In less than average snow years, there’s not enough coverage to get in a long outing. 2010-11 is not one of those seasons. I adore the quiet of running in the snow and the fact that I can hit the trail from my front door makes Straight Creek ideal.
Spring: ‘Tis the season for Yaktrax. The spring thaw/freeze cycle turns what snow is left into a sheet of ice in early mornings and late evenings. But with such rapid snowmelt, Straight Creek thaws out earlier than many trails in Summit County.
Summer/Fall: I keep saying I’m going to pack a lunch and explore all the way to the tunnel. Instead, I take advantage of the convenience and haul up the road on my bike when I don’t have much time to spare. It’s an easy way for Dillon Valley folks to get in a ride. As for running, it’s perfect for a post-work, pre-sunset jog. And the views of the sun setting behind the Gore Range ain’t too bad. With the creek so close to home, it’s a great place for dog walking and quick outings with family.
Alternate Routes: Neighborhood trails and Forest Road 51 link to the Oro Grande road/trail, which can make for a good loop/lollipop route in summer. I use FR 51 and Oro Grande to access Breckenridge’s trail system, via Summit Cove and Keystone.