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Most tourists visit Colorado’s famed Summit County for its world-class ski resorts. But the same free shuttle system that serves winter wonderlands like Keystone and Breckenridge also drops passengers at trailheads in the summer.
“Our bus system is probably the highest in the country,” boasts Bruce Camping, transit planner for the Summit Stage, noting stops at elevations higher than 10,000 feet.
Hikers can ramble above treeline for days at a time on the area’s trails, taking in the unrivaled display of summer wildflowers as they hop from lake to lake. Other routes follow quiet, secluded drainages, connecting the alpine zones to valley towns like Frisco and Dillon—a perfect formula for one-way shuttle hikes.
For a weekend-size sampler, backpack 16.6 miles from Copper Mountain to Frisco along the Gore Range Trail, spending the night in an unnamed lake basin. Bonus: Five breweries are steps from the bus stops.
Turn-by-turn From the Copper Mountain resort stop (#34), walk .3 mile north on the Continental Divide Trail across I-70 to a junction. Follow the Gore Range Trail 7 miles up to Uneva Pass, awash in forget-me-nots and sky pilots during early summer. Continue 1.2 miles to camp beside an unnamed alpine lake beneath 12,522-foot Uneva Peak. Next day, descend to the North Tenmile Creek Trail (scan for moose in the meadows) at mile 13.2 and follow it 3.4 miles downstream to the trailhead outside Frisco. Walk 1.8 miles through town to the bus stop for the return to Denver.
Get there From Union Station in Denver, hop on a Bustang bus to Frisco ($11-12, 1 hr 40 mins; departures 7 a.m. to 5:15 p.m.). (You can also take a Greyhound for $11-16.) Transfer to the Summit Stage and ride to Copper Mountain (free, 15 mins; departures 6:30 a.m. to 1:30 a.m.).
Additional options Summit Stage also serves the Wildernest trailhead in Silverthorne (Buffalo Mountain Loop, 14 miles) and the Continental Divide trailhead near Breckenridge (CDT, 13.2 miles to Copper Mountain).