Max slope angle
30-45 Degrees
Primary aspect
?
Vertical descent
2,099.00 ft (639.78 m)
Distance
3.00 mi (4.83 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Bald Mountain, located just southeast of Breckenridge, is the tallest peak along a 6-mile ridge running north to south. Easily viewed from the town of Breckenridge, it dominates the skyline looking southeast.

Defined by its historical significance, the access road that currently provides passage to Boreas Pass and the base of the Chicken Strip once operated as a railroad. In the late 1800s the South Park Highline was defined as one of the most dangerous railroad systems in Colorado, rivaled only by the Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge. An extraordinary engineering feat for its time, the railroad navigated treacherous passes and pierced mountains via tunnels and shafts while acting as the catalyst for small-town development. Operating for over 50 years, the 63-mile section between Como and Leadville cost $1.1 million dollars, utilizing 5,000 tons of rail and 200,000 ties.

Evidence of the engineering marvel litter the mountainside in the form of downed bristlecone pine used to develop the rail and town infrastructure. The last of the remaining structures rises at the summit of the pass, a museum and a series of bunkhouses and washrooms. In addition, old transport structures—ghosts of what used to be—frame the jagged peaks across the valley.

In the winter months these bunkhouses and washrooms offer sanctuary for adventurous backcountry travelers to warm their toes in between descents of low-angle alpine bowls.

While navigating through the town of Breckenridge to the gravel road to Boreas Pass, the Chicken Strip comes in and out of view. A southwest-facing aspect nestled in a drainage that shelters the precious snow late into the spring/summer months, it is usually the last skiable line in the zone. Occasionally descending from the 13,679-foot summit of Baldy Mountain, the strip offers continuous turns for over 1,000 feet. If the snow struggles to reach the summit, it is well worth the short climb to reach the peak to gain an incredible panoramic view. With 14ers, basin and range features, ski resorts, and alpine basins, the extra effort is worth the reward.

Navigating to the base of the line traces old debris from exploratory mines and fields of wildflowers accompanied by the sound of birds chirping in the spring alpine air. It takes a mere 30 minutes with approach shoes to get to the bottom of the Chicken Strip, which can be ascended either up the snowfield or along its dry flanks. Parking just off of the road, so simply load up and set off with the line in view throughout the approach.

Once at the top of the line, relax while the snow softens, especially if you opted to get an early start. Due to its aspect, the Chicken Strip can be skied late into the afternoon without experiencing excessively soft conditions. This is a perfect opportunity to make a quick summit dash, ditching packs and navigating the loose rock. Once at an optimal texture, strap in and rip it as hard as you like.

Low angle and quite wide, the strip is beginner territory, especially in the stable and accessible warm months. Just don’t forget to take a moment to look around and enjoy the potential the zone offers in the winter.

As always, have fun and be safe!

Logistics + Planning

Parking Pass

Not Required

Pros

Easy access. Low angle. Late snow. Great views.

Cons

None.

Trailhead Elevation

11,276.00 ft (3,436.92 m)

Location

Field Guide

Nearby Lodging + Camping

Comments

Have updates, photos, alerts, or just want to leave a comment?
Sign In and share them.