Overland’s Best Day Hikes: Mohawk Lakes Near Breckenridge, Colorado (updated 3/25/24)

Looking for a great hike near Breckenridge, Colorado? Read on to learn about Mohawk Lakes!

In this article, we’ll give you everything you need to know to enjoy the Mohawk Lakes hike near Breckenridge, Colorado.

Table of Contents

  • Part One: Mohawk Lakes Hike, Information At A Glance
  • Part Two: Mohawk Lakes Hike, Overview
  • Part Three: On-the-Ground Report from Overland Leader, Chelsey Colby
  • Part Four: Mohawk Lakes Hike, Helpful Basics
  • Part Five: Mohawk Lakes Hike, Area Map (courtesy of Gaia GPS
  • Part Six: Topo Map and Elevation Profile (courtesy of Gaia GPS
  • Part Seven: Mohawk Lakes Hike, Trailhead Information
  • Part Eight: Mohawk Lakes Hike, Other Resources

Part One: Mohawk Lakes Hike, Information at a Glance

  • Where: Breckenridge, Colorado
  • Distance: Up to 8 Miles Round Trip
  • Duration: About 4 to 5 Hours (without stops)
  • Difficulty: Moderate to Challenging
  • Popularity: High
  • Highlights: Views, views, views!

Part Two: Mohawk Lakes Hike, Overview

Picture a hike that starts at a shady trailhead where the light is filtered by aspens and the air is scented by balsams. All around snow-capped mountains stretch to the horizon. It’s dry and sunny—a beautiful summer day, with thunderstorms a possibility—as they almost always are—in the early afternoon.

Your day is just getting started, and you’re going to be on the trail for about four hours or so—with plenty of stops for rest, water, snacks, and views. There will be challenges—some steep sections and some elevation gain—but nothing you can’t handle. You’re ready, and eager, but where in the world are you? You’re in the Colorado Rockies. And you’re just outside of beautiful Breckenridge, and you’re about to set out on one of Colorado’s most beautiful day hikes: the Mohawk Lakes hike.

The Mohawk Lakes hike starts at the Spruce Creek Trailhead just south of Breckenridge, Colorado, a 19th century gold rush town that became a ski resort in the mid-20th century. Breckenridge is a two hour drive west of Denver.

Part Three: On-the-Ground Report from Overland Leader, Chelsey Colby

Chelsea Colby, a Rocky Mountain Expedition trip leader for Overland Summers, led three groups of teens on the Mohawk Lakes hike during the summer of 2022. In the paragraphs below, Chelsea gives her first-hand account of the Mohawk Lakes hike:

Mohawk Lakes is an easily accessible day hike near Breckenridge, Colorado. The trail has some steeper, rocky uphill sections but the payoff is well worth the effort. 

A few notes before you go: This is a popular spot so during the peak summer season, especially on weekend days, the parking lot can fill up. Make sure to get an early start so you can secure a parking spot and you have time to make it to Upper Mohawk Lake! It is gorgeous. 

After leaving the parking lot our group hopped on the Spruce Creek Trail and followed the creek up a gradual incline for just over a mile. At that point we came to an intersection with some of the other local trails but we knew our instructions were to continue straight on the Spruce Creek Trail. 

Soon we reached Mayflower Lake, a marshy area with a great view up to the mountain ahead with the waterfall in the distance. This was our first stop for a snack and water break. The students enjoyed resting on some of the nearby logs and poking around the area searching for lake-dwelling critters.

Hiking through the alpine tundra vegetation, we enjoyed investigating the flora and fauna, including bright red mushrooms and bighorn sheep. As the hike began to get steeper, we paused for a snack break next to a splashing waterfall, Continental Falls. This was a great spot for a group photo with everyone posed on a rock alongside the cascading waterfall.

As you continue to wind your way up you’ll come to Lower Mohawk Lake. The water is crystal clear. During the summer at that elevation you experience the funny juxtaposition of warm sunshine and snowpack on the ground. 

Our Overland students (who were all younger high schoolers) loved stopping along the way to check out the ruins of an old mining operation including a cabin, mine shaft and cables, and a mining cart. 

Carrying on to Upper Mohawk Lake is almost surreal, as the trail gets steeper and you come to a point where the water appears to be at eye level just hanging over the cliffside. The rocks above the lake afforded a great lunch spot before the group headed back down taking in the sweeping views of the Tenmile Mountain Range. The whole hike was about eight miles round trip and took our group about four hours.

Overland Leader Chelsea Colby At-A-Glance

  • Hometown: Meredith, New Hampshire
    College, Major, Year of Graduation: Middlebury College, Environmental Policy, 2017.5
  • Trips: Rocky Mountain Expedition (2022) and Service and Hiking Alaska (2023)
  • Current Responsibilities on the Year-Round Team: Member of our Admissions Team. 

What One of Chelsea’s Co-Leaders Had to Say:

Chelsea was always intuitive about the groups needs, supportive, and fun! She was on top of logistics, loved the kids, and the kids loved her. I could not think of someone more perfect to lead with.

John Quinlisk

Part Four: Mohawk Lakes Hike, Helpful Basics

  • Nearest town: Breckenridge, Colorado (about fifteen minutes by car from the Spruce Creek Trailhead—see below).
  • Distance from Denver International Airport to Breckenridge: Usually less than two hours, but can vary +/- thirty minutes (or more) due to traffic on I-70.
  • Estimated time roundtrip: four hours to Lower Mohawk Lake, five hours to Upper Mohawk Lake. These time estimates do not include stops for water, snacks, rest, views, or lunch.
  • Starting elevation: just over 10,000’
  • Elevation gain to Lower Mohawk Lake: about 1,500’
  • Elevation gain to Upper Mohawk Lake: about 1,900’
  • Tree Line: The trail starts below the tree line, but pushes beyond it after several miles.

Part Five: Mohawk Lakes Hike, Area Map (courtesy of Gaia GPS)

Part Six: Topo Map and Elevation Profile (courtesy of Gaia GPS)

Elevation Profile

Part Seven: Mohawk Lakes Hike, Trailhead Information

The Spruce Creek Trailhead is located a short drive (about fifteen minutes) from the center of Breckenridge, Colorado

Part Eight: Mohawk Lakes Hike, Other Resources

There are several variations of the hike on the AllTrails site—check out: 

  1. Mayflower Lake and Mohawk Lakes
  2. Spruce Creek Trail to Mohawk Lakes Trail
  3. Spruce Creek Trail to Mohawk Lake and Continental Falls

Day Hikes Near Denver also has a page with information on this hike.

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    Tom Costley

    When Tom Costley founded Overland in 1984, he sought to create experiences for young people that were fun, where new friendships could grow, where natural beauty was embraced, where there were real and varied challenges, and where Overland’s students would achieve something of importance to them. Overland’s focus on small groups, carefully crafted trips, and superlative leadership has made it a leader in the summer camp world. Overland’s commitment to excellence in everything it does has led to its success: over the past four decades, Overland has served 40,000 students and 5,000 trip leaders. Tom writes about the outdoors and travel from Williamstown, Massachusetts.

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