Pets allowed
Elevation Gain
Trail type
2.60 mi (4.18 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.

With its close proximity to Breckenridge, the 2.6-mile round-trip McCullough Gulch Trail is a popular trek that ascends past waterfalls and wildflowers to the picturesque Upper Blue Reservoir on the doorsteps of 14,265-foot Quandary Peak to the south and 13,950-foot Pacific Peak to the north.

The trailhead is located 2.4 miles west of Highway 9 at the end of unpaved McCullough Gulch Road, which is suitable for passenger vehicles during the summer and fall months. Arriving early helps to secure parking and avoid the peak-season crowds.

The hike begins at 11,100-feet on an old mining road and immediately ascends a steep grade through wildflowers and boulder fields. Watch for the surrounding mountains that occasionally peek through the pines. As hikers climb above tree line the forest gives way to open tundra and expansive views of the valley. At 1.3 miles lies Upper Blue Reservoir, where hikers can picnic, spot mountain goats, or play in the remaining snow during the summer months.

The short detour to White Falls Loop is a must-do, as it brings hikers right up to a set of steep waterfalls with various flora lining the banks of the falls. The loop returns back to the McCullough Gulch Trail, where hikers descend back down to the trailhead and parking area.   

Join the effort to protect these places

Conservation Colorado has worked with communities around the state for over 50 years in pursuit of its mission - to protect Colorado’s environment and quality of life by mobilizing people and electing conservation-minded policymakers. It fights to protect the air, land, water, and people of Colorado. Their collaborative approach and focus on electing pro-conservation officials has yielded successes in addressing climate change, supporting clean energy development, conserving water resources, and protecting our public wildlands and rivers.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

Not Required


Scenery. Waterfalls. Wildflowers.



Trailhead Elevation

11,100.00 ft (3,383.28 m)

Net Elevation Gain

810.00 ft (246.89 m)


Big vistas

Suitable for



Field Guide

Nearby Adventures

Nearby Lodging + Camping


Trail is not extremely difficult, although getting up to the lake involves some heavily uphill elevation change. If you're lucky you might get to see some Mountain Goats.
The McCullough Gulch trail is popular and justifiably so. We were fortunate to spot several mountain goats grazing by the lake. The views in all directions were spectacular. But it was very crowded on a Friday.
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