Day Hike to Lower & Upper Mohawk Lakes
Colorado › Mohawk Lakes
Added by Amy Kesic
Hike to 2 (or more) alpine lakes just outside of Breckenridge. Take in stunning scenery and a beautiful waterfall, and depending on time of year, wildflowers or fall foliage.
I recently spent the weekend in Breckenridge, and not being from the area, there was one hike that was on my bucket list: Mohawk Lakes. It didn’t disappoint! In late September, the Breckenridge area is full of gorgeous golden aspen trees, providing spectacular long-range views. In summer, abundant wildflowers are the name of the game.
This hike starts out deceptively easy. But the rule of thumb is that the best views are the ones you have to work for, and this is no exception. The first two miles are a wide, well-traveled and soft trail with a gain of only about 700 feet. Once you cross a 4WD back road, however, the climb—and the fun—begins. The third mile (to Lower Mohawk Lake) has a gain of about 800 feet, and the remaining half-mile to Mohawk Lake is 300 feet gain, with most of it occurring in the last quarter-mile.
Once you get warmed up and pass the 4WD road, the good stuff starts, and this is what makes it such a good hike. There are a number of historic log cabins and abandoned mining equipment along the trail, including one cabin that is in good enough shape to serve as a storm shelter. Mayflower Lake is a small diversion if you have the time. The trail more or less follows Continental Falls, a fabulous opportunity for some photography, as the rock outcroppings allow you to get pretty close.
Lower Mohawk Lake is small and shallow, a pretty setting with beautiful pine trees and lush vegetation. Mohawk Lake is a short but stiff climb up to the ridge. It sits at tree line and is bordered by a rugged ridge on the south, and is that wonderful aqua color that alpine lakes are known for. Look for wildlife—when I was there, I saw 5 mountain goats high up on the ridge! Also, moose and elk love the marshy areas full of willow.
If you have the time and energy, follow the lower ridge towards the west, and you will find three more unnamed lakes in the shelter of Pacific (13,950’) and Crystal (13,852’) Peaks. (I did not go that far, due to time constraints and weather concerns.)
- Water (2 liters)
- Trail snacks
- Weather-appropriate, layered clothing
- Trail shoes or hiking boots
- Sun protection (hat, sunscreen, lip balm, sunglasses)
- Rain poncho
- Book on Colorado flora if interested in wildflower species
- Snowshoe/xc ski gear (depending on season)
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Hiking, Photography, Skiing, Snowshoeing
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Get In Early!
Coming from the Midwest I could walk around any part of Colorado and not be disappointed, however this hike was one of the top hikes I have ever done! It kicked my butt but it was well worth it. Trails are a little goofy at times but it's pretty easy to navigate. Upper Mohawk is beautiful and the views from both lakes are breathtaking. Get there early because parking is a little nuts! My wife and I left around 1 pm and there were cars all the way down the road. Well worth a visit!
Beautiful Hike Lots Of People
First arriving at the trail head parking was a hassle. There were tons of people all over the place. We had to park about 3/4 of a mile from the trail head. Once we got to the trail head we were on a moderately difficult hike, along beautiful wild flowers and some streams. After you get to the ruins of what seems to be an old mining operation, you get the chance to see a large waterfall and extraordinary views of the distant mountains. Continuing up to the first lake I was a little disappointed, so we decided to head up to the second lake and it made it all worth the trip. We saw a beautiful lake and even some mountain goats!
This is a great campsite if you want to take younger kids along! We took the 4WD road all the way to the end. It's a burly road but doable if you have 4WD. It's a short .5 mile hike to Mayflower Lake and the views and campsites are perfect. It's a great basecamp from which Mohawk Lake and the Continental Falls can be reached.
Gorgeous hike to alpine lakes
This is one of my favorite hikes mostly because of all the lakes. The scenery is absolutely gorgeous, and if you hit the trail during peak conditions you will be treated to some spectacular wildflowers. The trail past Upper Mohawk is not as highly traveled, but will take you to three more lakes. Travel lightly and stay on the trail if you venture onward, the tundra is extremely fragile.
One of the best hikes in Summit County
Completed this hike on a cool evening in August. The trail is so clearly marked that I was able to easily get back to my truck in the dark with a headlamp. This was such a great hike that I decided on the spot to grab my backpacking gear and find a dispersed site off in the trees to make camp. Woke up early, did a short hike up to the marshy meadow to look for a moose and then headed 10 minutes back into Breckenridge for a bagel and coffee.
Got up here just after the first big snowstorm of the season. It's fairly well traveled, year round so the trail was clearly packed out. We made it all the way up to the Upper Lakes, but some kind of microspikes would definitely be recommended. The trail can get pretty icy in winter. Definitely go all the way back if you can, less people and better views!
Added by Amy Kesic
A mom who decided to get fit a few years ago, I took up running and hiking to keep myself moving. Since moving to the Front Range foothills a year ago, I've spent my free time discovering all the trails I possibly can. I'm in love with Colorado and the Rocky Mountains; I also like to take pictures, and I share my adventures here on The Outbound and on Instagram at @run2themountains.Follow
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