Snow has returned to the forecast for Colorado, and the winter is just beginning. With the holidays here and the coming months sure to be full of the fluffy stuff—that’s “snow,” to the layperson—it’s time to dust off the snowshoes and microspikes and head into the mountains with the family. The Rockies carve a swath of Colorado from north to south, and plenty of routes are flat enough and short enough for even the most finicky of family members without sacrificing any of those amazing alpine views or Rocky Mountain mining past. Here are a few to get your winter season started off right.
Sallie Barber Mine: An easy to moderate 3-mile snowshoe to the historic Barber Mine and wide vistas. Its length and ascent (a gradual 400 feet of elevation gain) will make it best for older children.
Dillon Nature Preserve: A relatively flat 4 miles along the Dillon Reservoir with open views of the Buffalo Mountain and the surrounding Gore Range.
Sapphire Point: A popular, short loop near Breckenridge with wide views in spite of minimal elevation gain. Just 0.7 miles long, it leads to an overlook popular for weddings, among other outdoor activities.
Lily Pad Lake: A third of Breckenridge-area snowshoeing options for families, Lily Pad Lake is a level 3.5 miles to a quaint, quiet lake.
Mayflower Gulch: With some of the best views in the Gore Range, Mayflower Gulch offers a challenge that remains within the reach of most families. Though it has more than 600 feet of elevation gain, the views and the ghost town at the Boston Mining camp make it a fantastic family destination.
Carter Park: No winter is complete without a sledding adventure, and Carter Park offers free access to a safe and long slope near Breckenridge. Emphasis on "free!"
Evergreen Lake House: Enormous and easily accessible, the popularity of Evergreen is certainly easy to understand. Regardless of the droves, the outdoor skating area is so large that it swallows the masses—if we are to listen to the hype, it is the largest outdoor rink in the world.
Adams Falls: Best paired with a family getaway to Rocky Mountain National Park, Adams Falls is actually accessible outside of park boundaries, and it clocks in at a short 0.8 miles, perfect for when the waterfall freezes over.