Francie's Cabin ELEVATION: 11,300 feet
HUTSKI.COM FREE TOPO MAP: Francie's Cabin (see below)
GPS: 407 655 E, 43 65 990 N
Trailheads: Burro, Spruce Creek USGS 7.5 min map: Boreas Pass
Summit Huts map: Francie's Cabin
Francie’s Cabin is located about four miles south of Breckenridge, Colorado. The cabin is named after former Breckenridge resident Frances Lockwood Bailey, who died in a 1989 plane crash.
The large "hut" is situated near timberline, in the Crystal Creek drainage on the flank of Peak 10 of Colorado's Tenmile Range, a ridge of ten peaks that runs north and south, and hosts the vast slopes of the Breckenridge Ski Area as well as numerous opportunities for backcountry mountain sports such as peak bagging and backcountry skiing. There are ten peaks in the range, aptly named (starting at the north) Peak 1 through Peak 10. The range continues to rise south of Peak 10 at high 13ers Crystal Peak and Pacific Peak, soon changing to what's known as the Mosquito Range, where 14,265 foot Quandary Peak lures climbers who seek to enjoy Colorado's famous 54 "fourteeners."
Because of its alpine location and proximity to the 10 Mile Range, Francie's is arguably one of the best huts in the 10th/Summit Huts system for advanced ski mountaineering. Nonetheless, it also yields less demanding tours in the drainage below the hut. Approach routes are quite short from the Spruce Creek Trailhead.
Map below connects to Francie's Cabin West on the left (west) and Section House on the right (east). Our maps are large and detailed, so when you click our map links allow time for download. If you have trouble viewing the Francie's Cabin map below, try our Francie's Cabin PDF.
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Spruce Creek Trailhead to Francie's Cabin via Crystal Jeep Trail
HUTSKI.COM FREE MAP: Francie's Cabin (see above)
TIME: 2 1/2 hours up, 1 hour down
DISTANCE: 2 miles
ELEVATION GAIN: 1,760 feet Francie's GPS Track .txt Francie's GPS Track .gpx
(Right click tracks and "save target as.")
As Francie's Cabin is in the midst of such fine alpine terrain, why spend much time getting there? This route addresses that question. That said, please know that parking at the Spruce Creek Trailhead is limited. Carpool, and be ready to car shuttle if necessary. Also note that part of this route is NOT marked with blue diamonds (but does follow an obvious roadbed).
Depending on the reach of the snowplows, foot travel begins at either the official signed Spruce Creek trailhead or an informal trailhead wherever the plow turns around on the Spruce Creek Road. We'll assume you're starting from the signed trailhead, since homebuilding in this area is resulting in increasingly better snowplowing.
If you end up starting in a different spot, add appropriate time and distance to your route estimate. As always in these situations, a GPS will help immensely if you don't know the area.
From the Spruce Creek Trailhead ski snowshoe are walk SW up Spruce Creek Road a short .2 mile and turn off right (W) on the Crystal Creek jeep trail. As of 2007 this turn had no signs. There is a green gate just past the turn, but it may be covered with snow during heavy winters. From here the trail climbs steep. You'll intersect the Burro Trail after a few hundred feet. Note that Burro Trail is marked with blue diamonds, while the Crystal Creek jeep trail is not. If you want a more leisurely climb, swing left at the Burro Trail and use it and the Spruce Creek Road for your route (see our map).
For the short route continue westerly up the Crystal Creek road cut (obvious roadbed and cut through conifer forest) 3/4 mile to an obvious intersection with another roadcut (the upper route as marked on our HutSki map). Continue a few hundred feet up obvious roadbed to a point where you break out of timber and get a nice view of the bowls and peaks above. You can continue up the roadbed a short distance to the hut, but the blue diamonds indicate a more direct line to the hut from here and that's the best way.
Burro Trailhead to Francie's Cabin
HUTSKI.COM FREE MAP: Francie's Cabin (see above)
TIME: 4 1/2 hours up, 3 hours down
DISTANCE: 4 3/4 miles
ELEVATION GAIN: 1,680 feet
If your pleasure is in the journey, enjoy this fairly long trail up to Francie's Cabin. The route is recommended by 10th Mountain and Summit hut associations, but may have trailhead parking issues. So be sure to have your trailhead figured out (see link above) before you're in a hurry to start your trip.
Francie's is a classic log structure that harkens to the historical Colorado cabins. (Note the elevation on the sign is lower than our HutSki.com take. We believe our elevation of 11,300 is more accurate, if you want to split hairs.)
From Breckenridge and Burro Trailhead follow the obvious Burro Trail south 3 1/8 miles to intersection with Crystal Creek jeep trail. For a nice steep climb (use climbing skins) follow the Crystal Creek trail 1 mile westerly to Francie's cabin (as described above). Burro trail may have a few markers, but don't count on them. Map checks and perhaps some GPS work are your best bets for staying on track, as well as the fact that much of the trail follows obvious cuts through forest.
For a more relaxed climbing angle, at Crystal Creek jeep trail continue southerly on Burro Trail about 350 feet and gain the Spruce Creek Road. Follow the road a mile to its signed intersection with Wheeler Trail. Here, take an obvious roadcut that climbs to the right off Spruce Creek Road and follow the wide roadbed as it swings northerly into the Crystal Creek drainage, crosses Crystal Creek, and makes a short climb to the cabin.
Francie's Cabin Regional Skiing
Simply put: you've got unlimited options. Try the Crystal Lake drainage above the hut for a lower angled but alpine tour. Given acceptable avalanche conditions, experts can try for Peak 10 or Crystal Peak. Zones below the hut may also yield turns. Other interesting routes will make themselves clear when you're at the hut and study the maps. To that end, HutSki.com also provides a connector map for areas farther west than our standard map covers. Check it out (link is above, in the caption above Flashpaper map).
[routes and trailheads field checked by HutSki 11/07]
Please note: The information in this website is based on the experience and research of the site owners and their sources, may not be accurate due to human error or source errors, and might not be perceived as accurate by other persons. Therefore, extreme care should be taken when following any of the backcountry skiing 10th Mountain Huts, Summit Huts and Braun Huts routes described in this website. This website is not intended to be instructional but rather is a guide for backcountry users who already have the requisite training, experience, and knowledge for the activities they choose. An advanced level of expertise and physical conditioning is necessary for even the "easiest" of the routes and activities described herein. Proper clothing and equipment is essential. Failure to have the necessary knowledge, equipment, and conditioning will subject you to physical danger, injury, or death. Some backcountry skiing routes for 10th Mountain Huts, Summit Huts and Braun Huts have changed and others will change; avalanche hazards may have expanded or new hazards may have formed since this website's publication.
Mission statement: The mission of HutSki.com is to provide backcountry skiers and other Colorado hut users with a complete set of high quality free topo maps, plentiful how-to information, and brief route descriptions that include alternate routes as well as standard trails.