Gold Hill (1.4 miles/ vertical minimal)
For those who desire a short easy jaunt to preview a nice collection of about 50 different kinds of wildflowers, Gold Hill Trail is just right. In early summer this hike produces an especially fine phlox display—an illusion of heat-proof snow. Glimpses of the Blue River valley surrounded by mountains are an added attraction. Shaded for the most part, Gold Hill Trail rises gently to a level meadow area. In the first half of June, calypso orchids hide here and there in forest duff, followed by flurries of phlox in July. This is the flowery portion of Gold Hill Trail, which is a small segment of the ambitious Colorado Trail. If you are looking for a short, quick family walk, this is perfect in the height of summer and early summer when the flowers begin to bloom.
To get here from Keystone: Take Highway 6 and turn off onto Swan Mountain Road (which will become Hwy 9) and follow Hwy 9 south for 6 miles to a parking area on the west side of the road. A sign marks the trailhead.
Gold Hill Trailhead to Copper Mountain (12.8 miles one-way/ vertical 3600 ft.)
This is a steady, 6-mile, 3600 foot ascent of the east side, crossing the ridge between Peaks 5 and 6 at nearly 12,500 feet, then a descent of 3,000 feet on the west side in about 6 miles. However, while you are up on the tundra, you are rewarded with some spectacular views! The snow fields tend to linger until mid-July and might present a problem before the end of June. If snow is a problem, there is a bike path to Frisco and up Tenmile Canyon, rejoining the Colorado Trail at Copper Mountain, but you’ll miss the great views. There are some nice camping areas on the trail, and this is a great overnight hiking trip and a great introduction into hiking the Colorado Trail.
To get here from Keystone: Take Highway 6 and turn off onto Swan Mountain Road (which will become Hwy 9) and follow Hwy 9 south for 6 miles to a parking area on the west side of the road. A sign marks the trailhead. This is a one way, you can park your other car in Copper Mountain at the Wheeler Flats Parking Lot: Take I-70 to Exit 195. Take CO Hwy 91 south and turn left just after an overpass. Go past a Conoco gas station for .4 miles to the Wheeler Flats Parking Lot.