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Combo Helen/Father Dyer/Crystal

Difficulty Class 3 
Start10,400 feet
Summit13,860 feet
Total Gain4,100 feet
RT Length7.5 miles
Last UpdatedMay 2023
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From the south end of Breckenridge, drive 2 miles south on Colorado 9. Turn right on Spruce Creek Road. Stay right up a small hill and turn left at an intersection. Stay on the main road and drive 1.2 miles (from Highway 9) to the Spruce Creek trailhead at 10,400'. There is a large parking area here.To continue to either of the upper, 4WD trailheads, pass through the parking area and continue up the rough road:Crystal Creek: After 0.2 mile, turn right and follow a narrow, rough road approx. 2 miles to reach Lower Crystal Lake, near 12,000'.Spruce Creek: From the lower TH, drive nearly 2 miles on the 4WD road to reach the upper Spruce Creek trailhead, near 11,100'.


This is a long, difficult, Class 3 route; If you're looking for an easier Class 3 in the area, try Father Dyer's East Ridge.

First, follow the Mt. Helen - East Slope route to reach the summit of Helen. Look west to see the long ridge to Father Dyer and Crystal Peaks - 1 and 2. Hike down the rugged ridge ( 3 and 4) to reach a low point, nearly 300' below the summit of Helen - 5 and 6. Continue west along the ridge crest ( 7) to reach more difficult terrain near 13,000' - 8 and 9. Stay on the ridge crest ( 10 and 11) and scramble over a few points along the ridge - 12 and 13. 14 and 15 show the location of a difficult, narrow notch which holds some loose rock. Downclimb a steep, exposed section ( 16) and climb left of the ridge crest to reach the highest part of the ridge - 17, 18, 19 and 20.

Plenty of tedious climbing is behind you, but it's not over - 21. Continue along the ridge to reach another prominent point - 22. Keep scrambling ( 24), downclimb some tough rock ( 25) and pass over one last point ( 26) to reach the saddle before the summit of Father Dyer - 27. Walk along the saddle, begin climbing toward the top ( 28) and rock-hop up the final pitch ( 29 and 30) to reach the summit - 31. 32 is a close-up of the ridge between Helen and Father Dyer.

From the summit of Father Dyer, hike west along the ridge to Crystal Peak - 33 and 34. Rock-hop ( 35) down to the saddle between the two peaks and hike the final 350' to the summit - 36, 37 and 38. Descend Crystal Peak's Northeast Ridge to the Wheeler trail, at 11,400' in lower Crystal Creek. Turn right (south) on the Wheeler Trail and hike 0.7 mile back to your starting point on the south end of the Aqueduct road.


The ridge between Helen and Father Dyer involves plenty of Class 3 scrambling, including a few sections where you'll encounter some Class 4. With careful route-finding, you should be able to keep the difficulty at Class 3, albiet difficult Class 3.
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