Middle Fork Swan River

4.9/5 (55 reviews)
Breckenridge, Colorado (Summit County)
Last Updated: 06/06/2023

Trail Information


Ghost Town
Snow Wheeling
The Middle Fork Swan River 4WD trail follows the river up its valley through picturesque pine forest and onto the high alpine tundra between Whale Mountain and Wise Mountain. From the high saddle, there are spectacular views with Breckenridge Ski Resort visible to the west, and the iconic Red Cone descent to the east.

Trail Difficulty and Assessment

Trail Navigation

The Middle Fork Swan 4WD trail begins as a tight, rocky, but easy road. The crux of the trail is a very rocky hill climb just above treeline, Tombstone Hill. This climb has several variations. A good stock truck, with good driving technique, taking the right line, can summit. However, a built rig, taking the hardest lines will find plenty of challenge. Note: The .gpx track offered here takes the easiest route. As noted in the waypoint descriptions below, there are some more challenging lines that will deviate a bit but should end up back on the track after the obstacle. Enjoy the challenge, but please stay the trail! After summiting at a high saddle, Middle Fork Swan traverses high tundra to intersect with several other, popular trails. Because of the challenge of Tombstone Hill, Middle Fork Swan is usually run from west to east, beginning near Breckenridge. Connecting to North Fork Swan River makes a loop. Continuing on Deer Creek or Saints John leads down to Montezuma. Cell service is nonexistent in the Swan River Valley and only spotty on the high tundra. The nearest emergency room is at St. Anthony Summit Medical Center (970-668-3300), located just off CO-9 south of Frisco. Summit County Sheriff office (970-453-2232) is on CO-9 in Breckenridge.

Trail Reviews

4.9/5 (55)
Official Crew
Visited: 06/06/2023

Forest Service reporting gates open, but snow before the treeline makes the trail impassable at this point.
Rated 5/5
Visited: 10/15/2022
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

Beautiful and scenic as always.
Rated 5/5
Visited: 09/04/2022
Difficulty Accuracy: Harder

Well, as I was heading up the bypass at Tombstone hill I thought to myself "I don't remember it being this hard, and it seems like more than a 4", but I'm still novice enough to not trust my opinion. But I feel a lot better reading Trint's 7/17 review down below. I think this is my favorite of any trail I've driven. Fun and challenging enough for me and tremendous views at the top. We combine with Sts. John for an awesome day. As a bonus there were several good-sized herds of mountain goats up there.
Rated 4/5
Visited: 08/19/2022
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

A nice, fairly easy way to come down (if you start on the Montezuma side).
Visited: 08/06/2022
Difficulty Accuracy: Harder

Great trail. Love the different options and challenges of tombstone hill. I agree with the last few review that it’s a little harder then described or rated. It was a good challenge for my Cherokee which now has lockers front and rear. Made it all the way to the top with no issues but could see it being more challenging with stock rigs. I did not take the easiest route to the top took the moderate route as I was alone. It’s a great way to connect to other very cool trails.

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