Stony Pass (12,592′), San Juan Range

Stony Pass (12,592′), San Juan Range

Near Beartown Trailhead (CDT)

Stony Pass (12,592′), San Juan Range

Stony Pass Rd crosses the Continental Divide and follows small streams that make up the headwaters of the Rio Grande River. The road was created in 1872 to connect the area’s mining operations in Silverton to the town of Del Norte. The Continental Divide Trail crosses the road at Hunchback Pass (12,493′) on it’s way from Mexico to Canada.

The San Juan Range is home to world class outdoor recreation. American Basin, California & Hurricane Pass, and Mt Sneffels are a few examples of the natural beauty of the area.

Location: Stony Pass to Kite Lake
Rating: Silverton to Stony Pass – Easy
Stony Pass to Kite Lake – Difficult
Road: County Road 3 (Forest Rd 520)
Round trip: 34 miles / 54 km to Kite Lake and back
Elevation: 10,000′ – 12,592′ / 3,048 m – 3,808 m

Mountain Range: San Juan
County: San Juan
Agency: U.S. Forest Service
National Wilderness: Weminuche

Elevation Map (select to enlarge)

 

The road crosses the headwaters of the Rio Grande near Kite Lake.

GPS Route with Elevation

Video Tour

Trail Directions

County Road 3 to Stony Pass (heading east) is a well graded and a easy drive to the top in a stock vehicle (in good weather). Once on the east side of the pass, an off-road vehicle is recommended because the road gets progressively more difficult until Kite Lake.

Pole Creek, a water crossing on the east side of the pass, can be very deep in the spring, making it impossible to cross.

 

Trailhead Directions

Select “View larger map” to send to your device

Shelf Road (9,494′), Fourmile Canyon

Shelf Road (9,494′), Fourmile Canyon

The Window rock formation near the road

Shelf Road (9,494′), Fourmile Canyon

Shelf Road Gold Belt Tour National Scenic Byway is a dirt road passable with a 2WD vehicle in good weather. It follows the old stagecoach route between Cripple Creek and  Cañon City built in 1892. It twists along Fourmile Creek, with long bands of limestone towering above and below the road. 

The Gold Belt Tour was designated by the U.S. Secretary of Transportation as a National Scenic Byway in 2000. It is one of eleven America’s Byways designated in Colorado. Fremont Peak and the Royal Gorge Bridge are located not far from the southern end of the road and are a favorite in the area..

Destination: Shelf Road
Rating: Easy 2WD
Road: Fremont County Road 9 (also called Red Canyon Road)
One-way: 23 miles / 37 km
Elevation: 9,494′ – 5,331′ (4,163′) / 2,894m – 1,625m (1,269m)

Area: Fourmile Canyon
County: Freemont
Agency: BLM (Bureau of Land Management)

Elevation Map (select to enlarge)

A sport climber’s dream, with bolted routes on stable limestone

GPS Route with Elevation

Video Tour

Route Directions

When entering the road in Cripple Creek there is a sign that recommends a 4×4 or a high clearance vehicle. The road, however, is well graded and the only issue would occur if snow or heavy rains hit the area. Any passenger vehicle can easily drive this road in good weather.

Trailhead Directions (select map to enlarge)

Flat Tops Scenic Byway (10,343′), Flat Tops

Flat Tops Scenic Byway (10,343′), Flat Tops

View from Ripple Creek Pass

Flat Tops Scenic Byway (10,343)

Flat Tops Trail Scenic Byway (County Road 8), runs through the northern portion of the Flat Tops Wilderness. The Flat Tops is Colorado’s second largest Wilderness, spanning a total of 235,214 acres.

The Flat Tops are part of the White River Plateau, with an average elevation of 10,000 feet. Approximately 110 lakes and ponds, often unnamed, dot the country above and below the numerous flat-topped cliffs. The valleys and relatively gentle land above the cliffs offers over 160 miles of trails to explore.

Trappers Lake is located at the halfway point, and is well worth a short detour.

Destination: Flat Tops Scenic Byway
Rating: Easy
Road: County Road 8
One Way: 82 miles / 132 km (Yampa to Meeker)
Elevation: 7,881′ – 10,343′ (+2,462′)/ 2,402m – 3,153m (+751m)

Area: Flat Tops
County: Routt
Agency: U.S. Forest Service
Nat’l Forest: White River
Nat’l Wilderness: Flat Tops

Elevation Map (select to enlarge)

GPS Route with Elevation

Video Tour

Trail Directions

 Starting from the east side in Yampa, take County Road 8 to the west.

The road soon begins to climb until you reach Dunkley Pass at 9,763′.

After descending the pass, the road begins to climb again very quickly until you reach the highest point on the byway, Ripple Creek Pass 10,343′.

Continuing west you soon reach the Trappers Lake turnoff. This marks the 1/2 point of the byway.

Soon after the Trappers Lake turnoff the road becomes paved the rest of the way to Meeker. Its a slow decent with large ranches in the lush valley.

Trailhead Directions

Trappers Lake (9,627′), Flat Tops

Trappers Lake (9,627′), Flat Tops

View of Trappers Lake from the Arthur H Carhart Trail

Trappers Lake (9,627′), Flat Tops

Roughly a mile and a half long and half a mile wide, reaching depths of 180 feet, Trappers Lake is the second largest natural lake in Colorado after Grand Lake. You reach the lake by taking the Flat Tops Scenic Byway from Yampa or Meeker.

The trail around the lake is named for Arthur Carhart, whose survey near the lake in 1919 inspired him to recommend preserving the area for future generations. Arthur Carhart’s efforts set the stage for the Wilderness Act of 1964 and the National Wilderness Preservation System which includes Trappers Lake and the rest of the Flat Tops Wilderness.

Destination: Trappers Lake
Trailhead: Arthur H Carhart Trail #1815
Round trip: 5.5 miles / 8.8 km
Elevation: 9,627′ – 9,950′ (323′) / 2,934m – 3,033m (99m)

Area: Flat Tops
County: Routt
Agency: U.S.Forest Service
Nat’l Forest: White River
Nat’l Wilderness: Flat Tops

Elevation Map (select to enlarge)

The trailhead is adjacent to the beautiful Trappers Lake Overlook.

GPS Route with Elevation

Video Tour

Trail Directions

From the end of Trappers Lake road, take the Arthur H Carhart Trail in either direction around the lake. The trailhead is next to the Trappers Lake Overlook. The trail is easy to follow in summer conditions.

Trailhead Directions

Hayden Pass (10,709′), Sangre de Cristo Range

Hayden Pass (10,709′), Sangre de Cristo Range

Looking back west shortly after the trail starts climbing

Hayden Pass (10,709′), Sangre de Cristo Range

Hayden Pass road crosses the Sangre de Cristo Mountains between Villa Grove in the west, and Coaldale to the east. The road is most challenging and scenic when started from Villa Grove, on the southwest side. With grades up to 20%, great views of the San Luis valley below can be seen.

This is one of only two vehicle passes over the Sangre de Cristo range. The other vehicle pass being Medano Pass, on the southern tip of the range. This pass travels through the Great Sand Dunes National Park.

Destination: Hayden Pass
Rating: Moderate
4×4 Road: Forest Road 6 Coaldale to the east or Villa Grove on the west
One-Way: 16 miles / 26 km
Elevation: 7,986′ – 10,709′ (+2,723′)/ 2,434m – 3,264m (+830m)

Area: Hayden Pass
County: Saguache
Agency: U.S. Forest Service
Nat’l Forest: San Isabel

Elevation Map (select to enlarge)

Trekking Colorado made the first jeep crossing over Hayden Pass in 2020 (May 23rd)

GPS Route with Elevation

Video Tour

Route Directions

Start by accessing Hayden Pass RD (FR 6) from Coaldale on the east side of the Sangre de Cristo mountains or from Villa Grove on the west side.

The pass is more difficult if started on the west side (Villa Grove) because you are climbing on a very rocky trail.

Hayden Pass summit is a large flat area after a continuous climb. The views from the road here are blocked by thick forest.

The road on the east side of the pass is better maintained and not as rocky.

Trailhead Directions

Fremont Peak (7,273′), Royal Gorge

Fremont Peak (7,273′), Royal Gorge

View of Fremont Peak from the trail

Fremont Peak (7,273′), Royal Gorge

Fremont Peak is the high point along a narrow ridge of hills rising near the eastern edge of the Royal Gorge’s north rim. The desert peak is part of a very small sub-range of mountains called the Gorge Hills. These peaks are relatively low and are covered in desert flora. Great views of the Royal Gorge, the Sangre de Cristo mountain range, and Pikes Peak can be seen along the trail and summit.

Don’t miss the Elkhorn Loop Picnic Area and Overlook to get a closer look of the bridge and the Royal Gorge, only a couple minutes drive from the EastRidge Trailhead. Great views just steps from your car, check out the last two pictures. You can find a map here.

Summers in this area can be dangerously hot, plan accordingly.

  • Destination: Fremont Peak
  • Trailhead: EastRidge Trailhead, Royal Gorge Mountain Park
  • Round trip: 3.9 miles / 6.3 km
  • Elevation: 6,919′ – 7,273′ (+354′) / 2,109m – 2,217m (+108m)
  • Note: over 1000′ total gain

Area: Royal Gorge
County: Freemont

Elevation Map (select to enlarge)

The Royal Gorge Bridge is the highest bridge in the United States. It spans 880 feet across the Arkansas river at a height of 955 feet. Built in 1929, it was the highest bridge in the world until 2001.

GPS Track with Elevation

Video Tour

Trail Directions

From the Eastridge trailhead head downhill and to the left (heading south) to get on County Road 389B.

Folllow County Road 389B until it ends at the radio towers

From the end of the road, you will see Fremont Peak across a saddle to the southeast. Follow the the trail heading in that direction.

You quickly come across a trail junction with a sign for the Summit trail. Follow the trail towards the peak (southeast).

Once underneath the peak, pick a social path up the steep slope to the summit. There is no maintained trail.

Trailhead Directions