January 18, 2014 Updated: January 18, 2014 at 4:00 pm
Cross-country and alpine-touring skiers looking for a long day high in the Rockies will love this gentle, wide route to a ghost town just above the resort town of Breckenridge, where a restored 1880s railroad bunkhouse straddles the Continental Divide.
To get there
Drive west on U.S. Highway 24 to Colorado Highway 9. Drive north over Hoosier Pass to Breckenridge. In town, turn right onto Boreas Pass Road. Drive 3.5 miles to the winter closure gate.
Boreas Pass Road was the nation's highest narrow-gauge railroad from 1872 until it stopped operation in 1938. South Park and Pacific trains used to climb this windy pass, which features a 3 percent grade to reach the top. Today, skiers revel in the gradual climb, which makes it possible to gain serious altitude without using climbing skins.
Start the trip by skiing the old road. Follow it as it tacks higher and higher, past old water tanks for the steam locomotives and abandoned mine derricks. Snowshoers not interested in heading all the way up can turn left at the tanks and make a loop back to the parking lot.
Eventually, the trail climbs above treeline to a saddle at 11,400 feet. Take extra clothing for this scenic spot. Boreas Pass is aptly named after the Greek god of the north wind.
Information: 1-970-468-5400, dillonrangerdistrict.com
In winter, the restored railroad cabin at the summit can be rented for overnight stays, as can the smaller Ken's Cabin. Visit huts.org.
A scale of one to four boots. One is easiest, with little elevation gain, and reasonable altitude. Four is most difficult, with severe elevation gain, difficult terrain or extreme length.
R. Scott Rappold, The Gazette