North Fork Swan River

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4.7/5 (63 reviews)
Breckenridge, Colorado (Summit County)
Last Updated: 11/23/2023
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Trail Information

Highlights

Altitude Category Icon Altitude
Camping Category Icon Camping
Forest Category Icon Forest
Iconic Category Icon Iconic
Mine Category Icon Mine
Rock Category Icon Rock
Snow Wheeling Category Icon 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

4.7/5 (63)
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Official Crew
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51650
Seasonal Closure
Visited: 11/23/2023

Closed for the season.
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Official Crew
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51650
Impassable
Visited: 10/29/2023

16" of snow reported in Breckenridge this weekend. The surrounding trails will all be impassible. Most likely a season ender for the area.
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Official Crew
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51650
Impassable
Rated 5/5
Visited: 10/20/2023

Between waypoints 4 and 5 (just after the 2nd watercrossing) the trail is a solid sheet of ice on a steep slope with no good turnaround. Very dangerous and definitely impassable.
Trail Review: North Fork Swan River - Trint Ladd
Trail Review: North Fork Swan River - Trint Ladd
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Official Crew
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63450
Impassable
Visited: 10/19/2023

Confirmed impassable due to snow and ice. May be possible if it can melt off a bit
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500
Impassable
Visited: 10/18/2023
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

This trail was nice and enjoyable up to waypoint 4. As the trail splits and starts to climb to waypoint 5 it is hard packed snow that is pretty much solid ice and impassable. I imagine at the exact right time of day if the sun is shining at the exact right angle the snow would be soft enough to climb as there are tracks here from previous pwople. We went early afternoon and the climb was way to icy. The days are probably numbered on this one.

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