Sunday, August 6, 2017

McCullough Gulch


The McCullough Gulch trail is another scenic high elevation hike not far from Breckenridge, CO, which takes you to White Falls and an unnamed lake. As you can see from the number of cars parked along side the road, this is a very popular trail. In fact, Jim was ready to turn around and forget it when a car backed out of an actual small parking lot off the road and we managed to get in his place. Of course we didn’t arrive at the trailhead until almost noon, but this was a day with only a 10% chance of an isolated shower, so we figured we were good to go, as did a lot of other people.

Apparently the forest service has changed the start of the trail as the road is gated and you have to park almost a mile from the actual trailhead. All the trail descriptions say it is only a 2.7 mile round trip hike, but we actually ended up with 4.5 miles given the distance to the parking area. At least it’s a pleasant, level road to walk on. We were surprised we only saw a few other people on this part.


Never have figured out why shooting signs is a such popular thing to do.





The actual trail starts off on a steep mining road and passes some remaining evidence.




Had we not explored the railroad tracks we would have missed this pretty area.




The trail soon leaves the old road and becomes even steeper, with plenty of roots and rocks to negotiate.



We passed a pond where some people were laughing about the woman thinking this was the lake. I’m sure she just wished this was the end of the hike.


Then White Falls come into view. Very impressive!



We scrambled off-trail to a secluded spot on some rocks right by the thundering falls, where we ate our lunch but could barely hear each other talk.


From the falls the lake is another 3/10 mile, but this is the most rugged, steepest part of the climb so it felt much longer. It appears neither of us took any photos of it as we were too busy watching our footing and trying to breathe. The good thing was there were quite a few people coming back down, so we had an excuse to stop and let them pass.

Finally after one last big uphill push we were at the lake.




This is the outlet for the lake where it drops to form the falls.



We climbed up on the rocks to get a view from higher up. We were just under 12,000’ here, gaining almost 1,000’ from the start.


Jim took this of me heading down the steep part of the trail from the lake.


And I took this of Jim coming back down from the lake, which is hidden from view just behind him.


The sky was darkening ahead of us on our way back down but we only got a few drops of rain. We still passed several people making their way up.


It’s a challenging trail, but definitely worth the effort. Jim slipped on a rock coming back down and got a big gash on his shin, but as we always joke with Mark and Bobbie, it’s not a good hike unless somebody bleeds. And we survived to hike another day…


  1. Yeah, we're just a bunch of thin-skinned Geezers nowadays :) Good to see you getting above the Freaking Forest where you can actually see something :))

    1. Yes, Jim gets a little cranky when I take him on hikes through the forest with no views.

  2. We wouldn't be able to do that trail. There would be no where to park our big a-- truck.
    Looks like a really challenging trail but beautiful. I love the rushing water.

  3. My riding friends in my mountain biking days called me "Tree Hugger" because of all the blotches of blood I left along the trails on the trees. Yep we can always tell where Barney tried to ride by the bloody trees.

    1. Too funny. That is why Jim has decided to give up mountain biking :-)

  4. Sounds very challenging but worth it in the end!! The lake is beautiful!! Nice view for lunch as well!!

  5. A great trail but where are oall the people from the parked cars?

    1. Most of the people passed us on their way down as we were making our way up. When we got to the lake there were only a few others there, so it wasn't as bad as it looked by the number of cars. Sometimes it pays to hike later.

  6. You managed to keep most of the people from all those other vehicles out of your photos! So pretty! It sure feels like the best summer destinations are getting busier and busier.

    1. Yes, unfortunately the more desirable summer destinations are getting more crowded. Makes us rethink whether we should travel in the winter and stay put somewhere for the summer instead of the other way around, but there are just so many places where summer is the best time to go.

  7. All those cars might have scared us off, but then, it is summer! You're photo make it look like you were alone...good job! Looks like a wonderful, challenging hike with lots of rewards. Beautiful falls:) I really enjoy finding those mining camps. I, too, feel it wasn't a successful hike if I don't bleed from something:)