Mohawk Lakes


A short, medium difficulty out-and-back hike, due to the fairly constant incline and many rocky places in the trail. Depending on where you start, it is about 1.5 to 3.5 miles one way.

Starting elevaton is around 11,000 feet (or lower from the more distant trailhead). The lakes are around 12,000 feet.

Getting There

Go south from Breckenridge about 2.5 miles to Spruce Creek Rd (a small blue sign) near the lake (Goose Pasture Tarn). Turn west and go through the small community, staying on the main road.

You can drive a car to the first trailhead, where a sign says it's 3.4 miles to Mohawk Lakes. To reach the closer trailhead, you will need a high clearance vehicle. The road can usually be driven in 2 wheel drive, but in places it is very rough and rocky, with some large rocks to negotiate. From the closest trailhead, the sign says Lower Mohawk is 1 mile and Upper Mohawk is 1.5 miles.

Maps: Trails Illustrated #109 or DeLorme page 48.

The Hike

The closest trailhead starts at a water diversion facility. The trail immediately begins to climb, but is not very rough at this point. After a short distance, you will come to a flat section from which you can see a steep hill ahead, with a series of waterfalls cascading down. This is Continental Falls on Spruce Creek, which you will be visiting shortly.

 [Image: the waterfall ahead]

From the lower trail, you can see the steep hill ahead, with Continental Falls and the ruins of the cable car system at the top

All along the hike you will see branching trails, and most of these circle back to the main trail. These are worth checking out when the flowers are blooming (late June through July). There are hundreds of varieties to see.

 [Image: Wildflowers]

This trail has a huge variety of wildflowers in early July.

There are many areas near the main trail to explore. There are wildflowers, collapsed log buildings, and rocks with beautiful quartz patterns.

 [Image: Rock Patterns]

Fantastic quartz patterns in the rocks.

A short distance further along the trail you will come to a wye. The main trail goes left, with Mayflower Lake a very short hike to the right. There are many collapsed log buildings near this intersection.

 [Image: Mayflower Lake]

Tiny Mayflower Lake, a short diversion from the main trail.

Back on the main trail, you begin to ascend up the flank of the big hill. There are several more log cabin ruins along the way, and in early to mid July the wildflowers are fantastic. By the end of August, the flowers are mostly gone.

When you come to the intact cabin, take the short hike to the right to visit the lower section of the waterfall. The sign calls this Lower Falls Vista.

As the trail switches back and forth ascending the hill, take the side trails to the north to view the falls. On each switchback, you get another section of what turns out to be a very long cascade down the entire mountain.

 [Image: Lower Continental Falls]

The lower section of Continental Falls.

The trail climbs the mountain in a series of switchbacks. It can be fairly steep and rocky, with a few places where you scramble over large rocks. There's nothing really difficult, but it is a lot of work to get to the top. Fortunately, stopping to view the waterfall at each northern segment of the trail gives you some rest.

 [Image: Rocky Trail]

Rocky trail climbing up the hill.

 [Image: Middle Continental Falls]

A middle section of Continental Falls.

The view down the valley is beautiful, with steep rocky cliffs on either side, and a distant mountain range across the Blue River valley.

 [Image: Trail View]

The view back toward Breckenridge.

As you climb the hill, you will see the ruins of an old cable car system used for transporting ore down the hill. Watch for parts all along the trail, including the ore cart in the tree at one of the waterfall overlooks.

 [Image: Cable Tower]

Ruins of the cable tower at the top of the hill.

Lower Mohawk Lake is in a beautiful setting, just below timberline. There are many things to look at and explore here. The water is very shallow, with the rocky bottom clearly visible.

 [Image: Lower Mohawk Lake east]

Lower Mohawk Lake (east end).

 [Image: Lower Mohawk Lake west]

Lower Mohawk Lake (west end).

 [Image: Lower Mohawk Lake all]

Lower Mohawk Lake from the west end looking east, toward the trail.

From Lower Mohawk Lake, you can continue on up the trail to Upper Mohawk Lake. The trail exits Lower Mohawk Lake near it's center, immediately turning south, and climbs fairly steeply. The upper lake is in a rocky basin, and isn't very scenic. There are a few ponds and small waterfalls along the way, and the wildflowers are beautiful in season.

 [Image: Upper Mohawk Lake]

Upper Mohawk Lake, just above timber line, barren and rocky.

Beyond Upper Mohawk Lake are several larger unnamed lakes, and the Pacific, Crystal, and Father Dyer Peaks (all thirteeners). If the weather is good you can continue on above the lakes across the tundra for some serious mountain climbs, but this is as far as I'm going.

Last updated December 2007