North Fork Swan River

4.8/5 (47 reviews)
Breckenridge, Colorado (Summit County)
Last Updated: 08/13/2022

Trail Information


Snow Wheeling
North Fork Swan River 4WD trail is one of the lesser known jewels of Summit County. The lower section offers a tight, rocky forest trail with loads of camping options and a few white knuckle moments. Above treeline, you'll find some excellent historical mining sites, and high alpine views that will take your breath away.

Trail Difficulty and Assessment

Trail Navigation

Over all, North Fork Swan River 4WD trail is a bit tougher than its sister, Middle Fork. They both offer tight, rocky forest roads, a taste of mining history, and epic alpine views. While Middle Fork's crux has a much more challenging optional rock climb, North Fork is rougher throughout and has a couple of unavoidable obstacles. The two trails together, along with a short section of Saints John Road, make a fine loop. Or either of them can be combined with Saints John or Deer Creek to connect Breckenridge to Montezuma. North Fork Swan can be done in a good, high-clearance, stock truck with a skilled driver. The tallest rock obstacle (at waypoint 5) can be bypassed by narrower rigs, but full size trucks will have to clear the 18" rocker panel biter. Full size trucks will also need a bit more nerve to get through the V-notch (waypoint 6). And, naturally, wet or snowy conditions will bump up the difficulty a notch or two for everyone. 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! Cellphone signal will be spotty to nonexistent throughout this trail. 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

4.8/5 (47)
Rated 5/5
Visited: 10/22/2022

Attempted 10/22 but had to turn back half way between waypoint 4 and 5 due to a steep ascent covered in a sheet of ice.
Rated 5/5
Visited: 10/15/2022
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

Amazing views as always
Official Crew
Rated 5/5
Visited: 08/13/2022

Beautiful day on the trails! MAN was it busy! I've never seen so many trucks and SxS's up there. It was like 4th of July! The bad tree root in the V-notch has been cut back, but it's still a threat. The notch itself has gotten worse with "moguls" that will have on you 3 wheels in a couple of places.
Rated 4/5
Visited: 08/06/2022
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

This is a fun trail. I have only done it going downhill and it was wet when I drove down. It wasn’t to difficult going down. It’s easier for smaller vehicles. My Cherokee fits easily through the notch and around some of the larger boulders. Traction was pretty good I didn’t slide to much, the gravel / dirt wasn’t super slippery.
Rated 5/5
Visited: 08/05/2022
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

Very fun trail, so much fun we forgot to take pictures till we got to the top. Once the trail starts getting rocky and climbing it becomes pure fun. The chutes area is especially fun with back and forth flexing with the walls of the chute close to your mirrors. If it was wet this could be very challenging but it was dry and easy. Once above tree line we took the Wise mountain spur and saw tons of mountain goats at the old cabin. The rocky climb from there is pure fun again, easy bit slow going and fun fun fun with great views!

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