There’s a reason you won’t encounter many mountain bikers on the rough and rocky Bill’s Ranch Trail.
Found just south of downtown Frisco, the trail is one of several singletrack connectors in the lush, aspen-filled forests around Rainbow Lake. These spiderwebbed routes are popular with hikers and mountain bikers, especially the flowy-yet-technical lower section of Peaks Trail, but few are as technically demanding as Bill’s Ranch.
The trail is littered with large boulders and slippery roots on grades varying from steep to utterly demanding. It’s only 1.3 miles one way, but the uphill climb from Frisco is only for veteran riders (newcomers will spend most of the time hiking). The trail is more suited for solo hikers and trail runners, thanks in large part to that daunting initial grind from Frisco. But, if you connect with Bill’s Ranch from lower Peaks or South Rainbow Trail — two short and sweet rides found off Miner’s Creek Road — the descent is an absolute blast. Just be sure to bring your full-suspension rig — it’s a wild and bumpy ride.
The best and easiest way to ride Bill’s Ranch Trail starts at the Peaks Trail or South Rainbow Trail junction with Miner’s Creek Road. From the junction with Peaks Trail, ride roughly 0.25 miles to Rainbow Lake. Pass the lake and ride a few hundred yards downhill on steep, rocky turns to the junction with Bill’s Ranch Trail. The trail heads downhill into Frisco on the right-hand side and uphill deeper into the woods on the left-hand side.
Head uphill on a steep, double-track climb for about 0.25 miles to a junction with South Rainbow Trail. Follow the sign to Bill’s Trail as it bears left and heads uphill for another 0.5 miles of rocky, rooty climbing. The double-track slowly narrows before looping back on itself for a well-earned 1.3 miles of pure descent.
From Interstate 70, drive through Frisco on Highway 9. Just south of town, turn right at the stoplight onto Peak One Boulevard (County Road 1004). After a few hundred feet, take the first right at the Miner’s Creek Road/Bill’s Ranch sign. Take an immediate left and drive up a narrow paved road a short distance. This paved section is open to bikes and other rec users. Use caution. Park at the trailhead and pedal up the paved path about 0.25 miles to the intersection with the Summit County recpath.
For a strenuous uphill climb, turn right and follow the path for 0.25 miles to the Bill’s Ranch trailhead on the left-hand side. For a mellow climb, follow Miner’s Creek Road to the lower Peaks Trail or South Rainbow Trail connector.
Take these rides 0.75 miles to a junction at the middle of Bill’s Ranch Trail, found a few hundred yards from Rainbow Lake. From here, pedal uphill on Bill’s Ranch for a short, rocky climb, or follow it downhill for a bumpy descent to the recpath.
Next week the mountains will come alive with patriotism and parties. Here’s a breakdown of all that is happening on the Fourth of July in Summit County.
The main event this Independence Day are the two major parades in Frisco and Breckenridge.
Frisco’s Fabulous Fourth of July Parade heads down Main Street at 12:30 p.m. from Madison Avenue heading east toward the Frisco Bay Marina. That morning from 8–11 a.m., fill up before the parade with the Team Summit Pancake Breakfast at the community center on 110 Third Avenue. Breakfast tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for kids 8 and under. Visit TownOfFrisco.com to purchase and for float registration.
Breckenridge’s Main Street parade starts at 10 a.m. with the Red, White and Blue Color Guard and the Wisconsin marching band. Following the parade, George Washington, portrayed by C.J. Mueller, will read the Declaration of Independence in the Blue River Plaza. Visit GoBreck.com to register for the parade.
ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Before and after the parade in Frisco, music of various genres will pour out in the town. First, the Summit Concert Band will perform at the Frisco Historic Park Gazebo on the corner of Second Street and Main Street from 11 a.m. to noon. Then, following the parade, The Artisanals from Charleston, South Carolina, will play their folk-rock tunes at 1:30 p.m. at the gazebo. Headlining the Frisco festivities is a free concert by legendary classic rock group Jefferson Starship from 5:30–7:30 p.m. at the marina. In between concerts, Main Street will have chalk art, a silent disco, face painting, a photo booth, skateboarding demos and more.
Across the lake in Dillon, the Air Force Academy Band will perform a free concert at the Dillon Amphitheater on West Lodgepole Street at 7 p.m.
Silverthorne’s Rainbow Park, located at 590 Rainbow Drive, will host its own Fourth of July fun from 10 a.m. to noon. The National Repertory Orchestra will perform as families enjoy an instrument petting zoo, face painting, bounce houses and other activities. Guests are encouraged to provide their own blankets or chairs and can begin reserving a spot on the lawn at 6 a.m. Visit Silverthorne.org for more information.
Breckenridge is a bustling hub of celebration on the Fourth of July with arts festivals and live music. First, the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance will have a garden party at the Barney Ford House Museum at 9 a.m. Coffee, mimosas and breakfast are available to enjoy as attendees watch the parade at the annual fundraiser. The event is sold out, but people can call 970-452-9767×2 to be put on the waitlist. Tickets cost $75 for adults, $50 for teens and $25 for children. Meanwhile, the Breckenridge Creative Arts District Campus off of Washington Avenue will have chalk art, a pie-eating contest, a dog fashion show, games and more.
For more art, visit the 36th annual Breckenridge July Art Festival at The Village at Breckenridge and Main Street Station, 505 S. Park Ave., from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Though Thursday, July 4, may be the start of the festival, it goes until Saturday, July 6.
Providing tunes in town at 2 p.m. is the dance band Thumpin’ at the Riverwalk Center followed by The Pine Beatles at 5:30. Closing out the evening is a concert by the NRO from 8–10 p.m., with tickets ranging from $10–$30. Visit BreckCreate.org and GoBreck.com for a full schedule and to purchase tickets.
No holiday is complete without plenty of fun for the kids as the entire family takes in the day’s activities.
Kids can start their morning in Frisco with a fishing derby at 8 a.m. at Meadow Creek Park, 828 Meadow Drive. The free event is available to children 15 years old and younger and they must bring their own rods and bait. If children wish to join Frisco’s parade, they can deck out their bicycles in advance, participate in a decorating contest at 11:45 a.m. and then pedal down Main Street with the rest of the floats. Visit TownOfFrisco.com for details and rules on the events.
Pretty much all of Keystone Resort’s Stars and Guitars events are centered on the little ones. Like Frisco, the resort has a bike parade and fishing derby. The parade runs from 10:30–11:30 a.m. in River Run Village while the derby happens in Lakeside Village from 3–5 p.m. Lakeside Village will also be the home of a bubble beach party from noon to 1 p.m. and music from So What Brothers and other activities from 4–7. Visit KeystoneResort.com for more information.
Breckenridge has its own family fun zone on the Blue River Plaza. Throughout the day there will be a drum circle, water party, pony rides, trampolines and more. Visit GoBreck.com for a complete schedule.
Sitting and watching the sights while enjoying grilled food is one way to celebrate the Fourth of July, but folks may also want to do something slightly more active.
Runners can get up bright and early for the 7 a.m. Independence Day 10K Trail Run in Breckenridge. Advanced registration is recommended as the scenic race is limited to 500 people.
Kicking off Breckenridge’s parade is the Firecracker 50 mountain bike race on Main Street at 9:30 p.m. Visit GoBreck.com for race details and registrations.
Due to fire safety and congestion concerns, there will be no fireworks in Summit County on the Fourth of July. Breckenridge has banned any sort of fireworks in town limits. However, that doesn’t mean fireworks won’t shoot off into the night sky throughout Colorado, with a few displays happening just a short drive away.
Vail will have its display at Golden Peak at 9:30 p.m. Beaver Creek will launch explosives into the air at 9:15 p.m. Buena Vista will have fireworks at 9 p.m. at the rodeo grounds. At dark, Kremmling’s town square will light up the night. Weather permitting, Idaho Springs will have its display at 9:15 p.m. over the Charlie Tayler Waterwheel.
Black Hawk will have a fireworks display, allegedly the largest in Colorado, begin at 9:30 p.m. Gypsum and Fairplay will shoot off fireworks at 9 p.m.
Leadville will have its display at dusk, Granby’s will be after its 7 p.m. rodeo and Winter Park’s begins at 9 p.m. at the Rendezvous Event Center.
As temperatures continue to rise, snowmelt is expected to fill Dillon Reservoir by about July 7. As of Tuesday, the reservoir was 92% full with room for about 6 billion additional gallons of water before it reaches capacity. That amount would raise the water level about 6 feet, according to Snake River Water District district administrator Scott Price.
The seven-day average inflow to the reservoir is 2,034 cubic feet per second, and peak inflow is projected to be about 2,800 cfs, Price wrote in an email. Peak outflow is not expected to exceed 1,800 cfs, so there should not be any flooding along the Blue River.
U.S. News and World Report named Breckenridge the 15th best small town to visit in the county. The Best Vacation Destinations rankings were released Tuesday.
Breckenridge joined Colorado towns Telluride (No. 1) and Steamboat Springs (No. 8) on the list. Jackson Hole and Lake Tahoe rounded out the top three.
U.S. News ranked the towns after compiling travelers’ opinions and expert and editor analysis, according to a news release. Each destination was scored in 10 categories, including sights, culture, food, nightlife, adventure, romance and more.
Breckenridge’s beloved trail troll, Isak Heartstone, is ready to receive visitors at his new home.
The 15-foot tall wooden sculpture reopens to the public Tuesday after closing in fall 2018 when nearby residents complained about too much traffic and noise from thousands of visitors.
“Its popularity was beyond all exceptions,” Breckenridge town manager Rick Holman said. “That’s why we felt it was important to bring it back.”
After it was dismantled, artist Thomas Dambo reimagined the troll — using its original head, heart, hands and feet — and rebuilt it in May in a new location near the Stephen C. West Ice Arena and Illinois Gulch trailhead.
A ribbon cutting is at 2:30 p.m. at Trollstigen trailhead. Visitors are encouraged to take the bus or walk 15 minutes from the Breckenridge Welcome Center to reduce traffic at the site.The celebration is the culmination of months of planning by a relocation committee and trail work by the town’s open space and trails department.
“We put together a community committee … to find a new location for the troll to bring him back in some reimagined form,” Breckenridge Open Space and Trails manager Anne Murphy said.
The committee — which was composed of Breckenridge residents, town council members and town employees — worked to find a location that was accessible and adventurous, offered an outdoor experience for visitors and could sustain a high amount traffic. The committee also searched for a site that had parking and no residential areas nearby.
The new site “checked all the boxes for us,” Holman said.
The new directional Trollstigen trail — which was built by a six-person team from the trails department along with a local contractor — features a rock-lined path, 200 feet of wooden boardwalk and a flagstone area in front of the troll for photos and selfies, Murphy said.
We decided this trail has to sustain a lot of foot traffic for a very long time to come,” Murphy said.
She said the town hopes to keep Isak for as long as possible, planning for a 10-year timeframe.
Holman described the new viewing area as “unbelievable,” saying town staff went above and beyond in creating Isak’s new home.
“I don’t think anyone ever dreamed it would be as popular as it was,” he said.
Lower Mortgage rates are proving to be a boon for home shoppers this summer. The 30-year fixed-rate loan has stayed near a 3.8% average for the third consecutive week, after consistent declines in late spring.
“While the continued drop in mortgage rates has paused, home buyer demand has not,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “This is evident in increased purchase activity and loan amounts, indicating that home buyers still have the willingness and capacity to purchase homes. Today’s low rates, strong job market, solid wage growth, and consumer confidence are typically important drivers of home sales.”
Freddie Mac reports the following national averages with mortgage rates for the week ending June 20:
30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.84%, with an average 0.5 point, up from last week’s 3.82% average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 4.57%.
15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.25%, with an average 0.4 point, falling from last week’s 3.26% average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 4.04%.
5-year hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages: averaged 3.48%, with an average 0.4 point, falling from last week’s 3.51% average. A year ago, 5-year ARMs averaged 3.83%. Source:
Contact the Summit County Animal Shelter at 970-668-3230.
LEND A HAND
Darth, the cat, has not found a home and his foster dad is going away for three weeks. The animal shelter is looking for someone, without dogs, to help for three weeks only. Hopefully we’ll still find his forever home soon!
Marley, the dog, is at Boulder Humane Society and needs a ride to the Summit County Animal Shelter. To help with either animal please contact the animal shelter directly.
CATS MISSY, 8 years, domestic mediumhair, tortie, spayed female
LARRY, 3 years, domestic longhair, orange and white, neutered male
FRANKLIN, 4 years, domestic shorthair, black and white, neutered male
MISS KITTY, 7 years, Norwegian forest cat, tortie and apricot, spayed female
CATALONIA, 7 years, domestic shorthair mix, white and gray, spayed female
PENELOPE, 2 years, domestic shorthair, gray tabby, spayed female
MR BISCUIT, 7 years, domestic shorthair, gray tabby and black tiger, neutered male
BINX, 10 months, domestic shorthair, black, neutered male
POOFY, 10 years, domestic mediumhair, gray, neutered male
LEO, 5 years, domestic longhair, orange tabby, neutered male
DEXTER, 5 years, domestic mediumhair, black and white, neutered male
TANK, 1 year 6 months, domestic shorthair, black and white, neutered male
TYLER, 10 months, domestic shorthair, gray tabby and white, neutered male
BOBO, 6 years, domestic mediumhair, dil calico, spayed female
GINGER, 10 weeks, domestic mediumhair, orange and white, spayed female
LADY, 5 years, German shepherd dog, black and tan, spayed female
ZENA, 5 years, Labrador retriever, chocolate, spayed female
To people who don’t live near the mountains, that might seem extraordinary. For those of us who do live at high elevation, summer snow is still a bit of a novelty, especially following a bone-dry, hot and fiery 2018.
But this year, mud season has supplanted wildfire season in June, with flooding a much more real concern as runoff hit its peak this week.
The National Weather Service issued a hazardous weather outlook and winter weather advisory for Summit County and much of the central Rockies from Friday night through Sunday morning. The outlook calls for periods of snow that will pose hazards to travel and outdoor activities as a high pressure zone sits above the Rockies through the weekend.
On Friday, the longest day of the year, scattered thunderstorms will move through the area with a 70% chance of precipitation. A low of 33–36 degrees overnight means real snow is not expected to fall below 10,000 feet, but there may be periods of flurries overnight, with little if any snow expected to stick by Saturday morning.
The storm system will move through the High Country on Saturday, with cold showers falling throughout the day into night. Snow may be seen in areas above 10,000 feet, with up to 10 inches projected for some areas.
However, for most of Summit, the white stuff should not be seen until temperatures start dropping in the evening. Daytime temperatures will bottom out in the 40s, meaning there should not be any significant snow accumulation below timberline.
Hazardous conditions will still exist on the roads, meaning anyone hoping to get another weekend of turns in at Arapahoe Basin Ski Area is advised to plan ahead and be wary of slippery conditions and low visibility.
Showers will persist through Saturday into the night, when things should get interesting. A low in the high 20s or low 30s means some snowfall is likely, with about half an inch expected to fall by Sunday morning. Winds may be strong at times, and travelers are urged to exercise caution making their way through the I-70 corridor.
Snow will taper off and turn into showers for the rest of Sunday, with a chance of thunderstorms through the day. Don’t expect bluebird conditions, but there may be periods of sun blinking through the clouds in the late morning and afternoon. For the most part, though, the weekend will end cool and wet, consistent with conditions over the past month.
And that’s where the good news finally comes in. As the storm system moves out of the area, moisture isn’t expected to come back for at least a few days. That means Monday through Thursday is expected to be dry, sunny and absolutely perfect for summer activities in the High Country.
Meanwhile, Summit’s waterways have just about crested from the spring runoff, and flooding may have been narrowly avoided this season. Streamflows peaked Thursday and started dipping Friday in Tenmile Creek and the Snake River, two streams that appeared on the cusp of forcing community action to shore up the banks and roll out flood mitigation measures.
As far as standing bodies of water, Dillon Reservoir is right on track to get full by the 4thof July. The reservoir, currently at 90% capacity, has an inflow of 2,255 cubic feet per second of water with 919 cfs draining back into the Blue River. At an elevation of 9,008 feet, there’s less than 9 feet to go before the reservoir is full and both marinas in Dillon and Frisco launch boating season.
With Arapahoe Basin extending its season into the last weekend of June and possibly into the 4thof July, Summit County will be experiencing the best of both seasons by the time America celebrates its 243rdbirthday. Residents should finally be able to say goodbye to this long winter and embrace a great summer after the storms pass this weekend.