Saturday, January 24, 2009

Baker's Tank (Boreas Pass Rd) Snowshoe

Distance: 6 miles round trip
Elevation: 10,350 ft to 11,050 ft
Elevation Gain: 700 ft
Bathroom at Trailhead: No
Dogs: Off leash
Date snowshoed: 18 January 2009
Tags: #snowshoe, #coloradooutdoors, #breckenridge

Our Destination...Baker's Tank. Note the ski tracks to the left. This is where the CMC trail comes in.

On a sunny calm day, the Baker’s Tank snowshoe near the Breckenridge Ski Resort will fill you with awe. On an overcast or very windy day, this snowshoe will be a bone chilling experience, so choose your time well. This is also not a snowshoe for those who cringe at the sight of another Homo sapien because they will be there in droves, at least for the first 1.5 miles, after which they seem to thin. Still, the views are sublime, the trail is easy, and route to the trailhead is passable by passenger cars. This snowshoe will not prepare you for a winter assent of Mt. Bierstadt, but it will fill you with the joy of the outdoors. Sometimes that can be just as good.

0.5 miles from the trailhead is Rocky Point. Here the views begin.

Rocky Point

This trail is outside of Breckenridge and begins where Boreas Pass Road dead-ends into a plowed parking area. There are two options for this snowshoe. One is the road itself, which we took, and the other is a narrow trail through the trees, which cuts across to the tank. The guidebooks say this trail is more secluded, contains less people, but also has an additional 400 ft of elevation gain. We chose the road not for fear of the elevation gain but because we wanted the views. I can take the hordes if the views are worth it. Others may feel differently.

Looking south at what I believe is Mt. Argentine (~11, 300 ft)

Goose Pasture Tarn with the Tenmile Range in the distance

Boreas Pass Road is an old rail bed for one of the first narrow gauge railroads to traverse the continental divide. In its day this was an important commercial route. The destination, Baker’s Tank, is a steam engine watering tank that has been restored by Summit County. Such a history means the road gains elevation very gradually. Boreas Pass Road does go all the way over Boreas Pass to the town of Como. It would be a hearty soul indeed to traverse that distance on snowshoes. Many do continue another 4 miles to the Section House and John’s Cabin huts, which are located near the pass itself.

Boreas Pass Rd traverses several Aspen Groves. Note the people and the very wide, packed trail.

The meadow at 1.5 miles. Many people turn around here. The best views are up to this point. Just past the trees on the right is another large meadow to the south. If you only came this far, it would be worth it.

Because this route is so popular, we ended up leaving the snowshoes in the car and just used Microspikes. As you can see from some of the pictures the snow was very compressed. I can’t imagine deep snow on this trail unless you happen to live in Summit County and can hit it right after a good dumper.

Closer to the tank there are less Aspens but nice views of Bald Mountain.

The main views are of the Tenmile Range, which include the peaks of the Breckenridge Ski Area plus Quandary Peak. The mountain to the south I believe is Mt. Argentine not to be confused with Argentine Peak, which is off of Peru Creek Road. Behind Baker’s tank is Bald Mountain.

Heading back now with views of the Tenmile Range

Quandary Peak (14, 265 ft)

The first milestone one the road is Rocky Point at 0.5 miles from the trailhead. It is here that views really begin. At 1.5 miles is a very large meadow. Here you can access the tree-lined trail mentioned earlier.

The closer we got to the trailhead, the more people we began to see.

The lower end of Boreas Pass Road does traverse several nice Aspen Groves, which makes me wonder about driving this in the fall. I confess I tend to do a lot of the same snowshoes over and over again because if I am going suffer through I-70’s ghastly traffic jams, I want it to be worth the pain and agony. Baker’s tank on a sunny day has just expanded my repertoire.


Sparverius said...

What an incredible snowshoe hike!

Lindab said...

Really enjoying living vicariously through your snowshoe trek.
You mention Aspen groves - I've always longed to see these, based on Sunday afternoon classic Western films on TV during my childhood. There is one film (can't remember which!) with beautiful images of aspens in autumn along the gravel banks of a river, and mountains rising behind. They set me dreaming!

Tina said...

Photos 2, 3, 4, and 5 plus several at the end of your post should be made into post cards! Really nice. I don't blame you for trying to find alternate routes since traffic seems to be a pain in your butt also...and I thought all those car jams were just east and west coast..who would have thought. Thanks for stopping by. good to hear from you. :)

Gary said...

Beautiful pictures of a great day and trek! I've just discovered you blog and look forward to keeping up with your adventures :-)

Anonymous said...

This is off topic but theres a chance that the Colorado Historical Society will rebuild the railroad that followed this road. It could be restored for tourist to ride in the summer. Nice pictures the way. said...

We just hiked this (June, 2010); and there was obviously an old burn that went through much of the area (20+ years ago) -- does anyone know anything about the burn?