Keystone Resort has had a place in Summit County history since the Dercums founded the ski area back in 1970. The resort is now offering a free guided mountaintop history walking tour to give guests a chance to learn unique Keystone and Colorado facts while taking in the views along Dercum Mountain.
The Mountaintop History Walk is offered each Sunday through Sept. 4 at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. The walking tour lasts for one hour, and is a mellow and slow-paced 1.5 mile walk along the Dercum Hiking Trail. No registration is required, and a summer scenic lift pass is needed.
Matt Steninger is the guide for the Mountaintop History Walk, as well as a Keystone Ski & Ride School Youth Supervisor in the winter. He moved to Summit County in December 2010 to be a ski instructor, but has been skiing at Breckenridge since the age of 2 on visits with his family. With a love and education in history, Steninger will weave tales of how the founders started Keystone, how the runs got their names and more.
Summit Daily News: How did you get into doing these history tours?
Matt Steninger: I studied history at the University of Colorado – Boulder. I love history because it is really about stories. It’s not simply, “name, date, fact, repeat.” Being able to share these stories gets me really excited.
SDN: Have you done tours like this before?
MS: I worked with the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance, giving the Ghost Tours of Breckenridge. I learned a lot of amazing, and spooky, local history there.
SDN: What first interested you in Keystone/Colorado history?
MS: My family has a long history in Colorado. Initially, my interest was in that family history. One of my great-grandfathers built one of the first brick buildings in Salida, and later helped to found the town of Dolores, near Cortez in the late 1800s. All four of my grandparents were in Colorado before World War II.
SDN: What do you think is the most interesting thing about Keystone’s history? Colorado’s history?
MS: The most interesting part of Keystone’s history are the stories behind the names of the ski runs and lifts. In 1970, our founders had a vision that involved our local history.
In terms of Colorado history, I think the most interesting part is how much there actually is. Colorado, and Summit County, didn’t simply begin with the gold rush. There is evidence at Vail Pass and just west of Keystone that puts Native Americans in Summit County eight to ten thousand years ago.
SDN: Who do you think would enjoy this tour? How strenuous would you say it is for guests?
MS: All ages would enjoy the tour. I’ve got some fun facts about our founders’ kids, so our young guests can imagine what life was like for children in the early days of Keystone. The walking tour itself is gradual, with two sections I’d classify as moderate. The most strenuous part is the altitude. The hike begins and ends at 11,640 feet above sea level. I highly recommend everyone bring water, wear solid hiking/walking shoes and apply sunscreen.
SDN: What do you think is the highlight of the tour?
MS: Besides learning some new things, the highlight is Keystone’s location. Starting at the top of Dercum Mountain, you get panorama views of three mountain ranges, including seven 14ers. Our trail moves into a beautiful forest and provides a taste of what hiking in the Colorado Rocky Mountains can really be.